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Food crisis looms as weatherman predicts hot month

By By GATONYE GATHURA | January 8th 2014


Kenyans should expect a hot January with the Northern region expected to experience periods of dangerous heat waves and daytime temperatures of up to 40 degrees centigrade.

In his first weather forecast of the year, Dr Joseph Mukabana, director at the department of meteorology, said the short rains season has come to a disappointing close and only a few parts in Western and Narok should expect some rains this month.

Mukabana said the rains were not enough to either generate good pasture in pastoral areas or fill up the electricity generating Seven Folks dams.

“This means reduced water resources for domestic use, drinking and sanitation in many areas and particularly in the Northern, Northeastern and Southeastern parts of the country,” he said in his report.

The weather men also predict poor crop performance over most of the central highlands and southeastern region.

However, a report released by the Government and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network on Friday does not foresee a widespread food crisis in coming months.

It agrees with the weathermen’s prediction of poor crop performance especially in parts of eastern and coastal areas where the short rains were almost a total failure.

The food security alert shows maize harvests from these areas, expected in February, will be much below average. “The harvest will likely be lowest in the marginal, agricultural areas of Taita Taveta County, which may get as little as a tenth of what they normally get.”

The network forecasts high food prices within the year with a limited and manageable Class Three Food Crisis between August and October. This is normally a lean period when Kenyans are expecting the March to May long rains crop to hit the market.

A Class Three Food Crisis, or what the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation calls Integrated Food Security Phase Classification is when a country or a community is facing an acute food and livelihood crisis but not necessarily causing deaths.

This assurance is different from views being expressed by pro GMO groups who are calling for the lift of a ban on the products to allow the country import to avoid what they say is a certain food catastrophe.

The Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Felix Koskei has said the gap can be closed with informal imports from Tanzania.

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