Ironically, more than 2.4 million Kenyans face acute starvation while cereal farmers in the North Rift region, the country’s food basket, are experiencing market challenges for their produce.
The farmers are staring at heavy losses due to the deteriorating prices of the cereals — maize and wheat — caused by the ongoing harvest of this season produce and the arrival of cheap imports from neighbouring countries under the East African Common Market Protocol.
Maize prices have dropped to Sh2,400 down from Sh3,200 per 90-kilogramme bag in most parts of the region. The supply of the foodstuff to most households is likely to plummet further as farmers in Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties continue to harvest the crop.
The flour prices have stabilised at an average of Sh80 down from Sh102 per two-kilogramme packet in most retail outlets in the region
“We expect the maize prices to improve once the National Cereals and Produce Board and millers start purchasing the crop,” said Lucy Koech from Sergoit, Uasin Gishu County.
She has 40 bags of maize, which are more than sufficient for her family before the next crop is ready.
“I consume an average of 10 bags annually but I have to keep the rest as security,” she says.
According to the latest report by the National Drought Management Authority, a decline in production coupled with the pandemic affected household food security in the country.
“In the marginal agricultural areas, the poor performance of the long rains coupled with effects of Covid-19 impacted negatively on household food security and considering this being the second successive failed season,” states the 2021 Long Rains Season Assessment Report.
The report says maize production reduced by 70 percent, adding that households have limited stocks of 60 percent with the rest relying on market purchases.
The report also noted that the high cost of food would persist.“High food prices are expected to continue until the end of the year, further impacting on household food security,” said the report.Thousands in Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Baringo and Turkana counties face food scarcity as a result of the unrelenting drought. They have to travel several kilometres in search of water and pasture for their animals.With the country witnessing biting famine, the nutrition situation in places like Turkana, Samburu, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Isiolo and North Horr and Laisamis will continue to deteriorate.“Nutrition situation is projected to worsen in Turkana, Samburu, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Isiolo and North Horr and Laisamis given […]