Kenya’s current food prices are the highest the country has experienced in the last five years and are among the highest in the world, a new research has revealed.
According to Dr Timothy Njagi, a researcher from Tegemeo Institute, maize prices in Kenya for instance, are three times higher than the global market price.
“In Kenya, a tonne of maize in the local market is selling at Sh50,000 ($500 ) compared to the global market price of Sh15,000 ($150 ). A tonne of sugar in Kenya is selling at Sh120,000 and Sh40,000 globally,” said Dr Njagi.
Compared to her east African counterparts, a tonne of maize in the country is selling at between Sh56,045 and Sh85,068 in the wholesale and retail market respectively. In Uganda, the same quantity is retailing at Sh56, 761 and Sh51, 085 in wholesale market while in Tanzania, the price is between Sh55,097 and Sh68 871 according to the According to the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network by the Eastern Africa Grain Council.
Kenyan food prices are high because of low food production
The country’s food production trend has been declining in the last two years owing to numerous gaps along the value chain which include low output and high cost of production, which has contributed to the escalating prices.
Currently, the cost of producing a 90kg bag of maize is Sh2,150 for small-scale farmers and Sh1,800 for large-scale farmers. Production of a tonne of sugar costs Sh60, 000 in Kenya and Sh35,000 within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa region.
“Interaction between drought, policy and markets has been the major cause of high commodity prices in Kenya. In the next one year, interface of the same issues will continue and will interfere with consumers’ purchasing power,” said Njagi.
The institute warned food production will decrease further in the next two years owing to effects of climate change, high cost of production and reduced yields in the region countries.
“In the coming years owing to certain underlying factors such as lack of thorough preparedness in terms of taming climate change and value chain weakness, the country granaries will have less food,” Njagi said.
Tegemeo Institute, an affiliate of Egerton University conducts research and analysis on policy in agriculture, rural development, natural resources and environment.
Kenya’s high cost of living
The cost of living in Kenya continues to rise by day and prices of the most basic items like unga, milk and sugar have soared drastically in the past few months.
At the start of the year, cooking oil cost Ksh130 per litre, now it’s Ksh180; 2kg of meal maize was Ksh100 per kilo, now it’s Ksh160; and 1kg of sugar was Ksh95, now it’s Ksh160. A 500ml packet of milk was selling at Ksh 45 now it’s Ksh 60.
The government in a bid to mitigate the “unga crisis” has come up with a subsidized programme that has seen the prices of unga drop to sh 90 and sh 47 for the 2kg and 1 kg bags respectively.
However the subsidized unga is yet to reach majority of wananchi, who according to media reports are only hearing about it in the media.