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Kenya to suffer food shortage starting July, warns Koskei

The country is likely to experience food shortage by the end of July, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei has warned.

Koskei said going by the current level of stocks, the country is likely to experience a deficit of 720,000 bags of maize by the end of July. He, however, said there is no need for alarm because measures are being put in place to mitigate this.

“Currently, we are not badly off in terms of food security. The shortfall in maize stocks that is expected in late July should be met through cross border trade within East Africa, which is expected to pick up from this month,” said Koskei.

The CS noted that early harvesting of maize expected by end of June in parts of South Rift and lower Eastern regions and harvesting of beans, potatoes and other early maturing crops by mid June is further expected to improve local food supplies.

“The Strategic Grain Reserve is currently holding 3.1 million bags of maize against the required threshold of four million bags. This maize is stored in the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) across the Country,” he said.

The CS noted that the current production of maize was 33 per cent short of the forecasted production. The ministry was targeting to get 47,611,805 bags (90kg) after the long rains but only managed 37,438,800 bags.

Kosgey pegged this to a number of reasons, including low rains in the month of April that caused the crop to suffer from moisture stress, poor germination and the spread of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND).

 Animal feed

“The low forecast is mainly due to the effects of the dry spell in the main production areas as well as MLND in Borabu (Nyamira County), Trans Mara West, Narok South (Narok County) and Bomet County,” he said.

As immediate interventions to curb rising food prices and to ensure food security, Koskei noted that his Ministry is planning to consider opening up discussions with EAC and Comesa member state such as Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to import up to three million bags cheaply before August when the harvest from the South Rift region is expected.

The ministry is also planning to import three million bags of yellow maize duty free for animal feed.

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