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Tackle the looming threat of food shortages

By The Standard | Published Thu, December 7th 2017 at 00:00, Updated December 6th 2017 at 20:43 GMT +3

Kenyans have spent a lot of time on acrimonious politics at the expense of everything else. With the elections now behind us, leaders need to focus on issues that pose the greatest threat to citizens. One such threat is food insecurity.

For the second time this year, Kenya has received warnings of serious food shortages that threaten millions of its citizens.

In January, the United Nations Humanitarian Agency warned that 3.6 million Kenyans would require emergency food relief because of ravaging drought in parts of the country, especially the pastoralist areas in the northern part of the country.

Yesterday, the World Food Programme warned that 3.4 million Kenyans face starvation unless measures are urgently put in place to guarantee food security. While the blame could readily be placed on the failure of the March to May long rains to reach the expected volumes, thereby impacting negatively on food production in many areas across the country, lack of clear-cut policies and seriousness on the part of the Government to ensure adequate food supplies also played an important role. The Sh14 billion investment in the million-acre Galana/Kulalu irrigation scheme has not returned the desired results.

According to government statistics, the country produced 42.5 million bags of maize in 2015, yet in 2016 there were food shortages that necessitated importation.

Apparently, Kenya exported more than was necessary. The Government would do well to embark on raising grain reserves through importation and offering local farmers good prices for their produce to encourage sales to the cereals board.

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