Food production in Kenya is expected to drop drastically by between 30 and 40 percent come April next year. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned of a looming famine brought about by failed rains, uncertified seeds, high farm inputs and lethal maize diseases, which will subsequently lead to higher food prices.
MAIZE FLOUR PRICE TO SKY ROCKET
“Kenyans have to brace for hard times come April next year due to failed rains,” said FAO’s National Food Security Officer, Simon Muhindi, adding that they expect maize production to drop from 36 million bags to 24 million bags this year. This means that the price of maize flour will sky rocket.
Kenya has been hit by a high cost of inflation that has seen food prices escalate to the anguish of many city residents. If the cited food shortage is anything to go by, 2014 will kick off on a bad note just like 2011 where prices of basic commodities went high.
For instance, following the drought that hit the country in the first half of the year 2011, market prices of maize were
pushed to Sh4, 500 per bag, from below Sh3, 000 and as a result, the prices of unga soared. In August 2011 a two-kilogram packet of flour was retailing at an average of Sh150 in Nairobi supermarkets having risen from Sh70 since December 2010. This forced wananchi to switch preferences from their staple food ugali to other alternatives like potatoes, spaghetti and rice. Prices of cooking oil, sugar and fuel also went high around the same period and there was a public outcry in protest of the high cost of living.
In the meantime the government, FAO and other development partners have embarked on an assessment of the food security situation in the country and a report on the same is expected to be released by 5th December. The exercise will target the crops, fisheries and livestock sectors and it will cover 24 counties.
Food security in Kenya continues to be among the prime challenges facing the government and since part of the Jubilee’s government manifesto was food security. We hope that much will be done to reverse the situation which Kenyans have to bear with, year in year out.
SIX FOLD INCREASE IN RICE PRODUCTION?
One possible piece of good news, however, was hidden away on page 6 of today’s Standard. Researchers from China are currently in Kenya to showcase a new high yielding rice variety which produces 240 bags of rice per acre compared with the 30-40 bags per acre harvested here.
The long-term prospect of a six-fold increase in rice production is to be welcomed but of course it won’t help us by April 2014 and then there are the concerns expressed by some at the prospect of genetically modified crops being introduced into our ecosphere.