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Two million Kenyans facing food crisis

COUNTIES
By Moses Nyamori | July 10th 2019
ECD pupils at Pakka Hills Primary School in Tiaty, Baringo County. The area has been ravaged by a food shortage in the past months. [File, Standard

The number of people staring at food crisis is likely to hit two million this month amid reports the country is set to run out of maize stock.

This is an increase from 1.6 million people in May, according to a report by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).

The agency this morning told Standard Digital that it has dispatched officers to arid and semi-arid areas to collect data on the affected families in an effort for the government to take emergency interventions.

“It is estimated that 1.6 million people are in crisis and the number is expected to reach over 2 million by July 2019,” says the report.

The report adds, “More households now face stressed acute food insecurity levels. In the pastoral north-west more households are in both crisis and emergency food insecurity phase.”

The agency cited the below normal rainfall performance coupled with poor temporal and uneven distribution as the main reason for poor crop production.

Some of the most affected areas are Turkana, Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River and Tigania West.

The food shortage has been attributed to drought that affected food production in several parts of the country.

The report comes as Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, a public think-tank, told the government for importation of maize to avert a major food crisis in the country.

The institute said that importation of the cereal would help shield consumers from ravages of drought and at the same time avert a defective subsidy programme like one in 2017.

Already, in the last two weeks, retailers have adjusted the price of 2kg packet of flour to Sh120, up from Sh90.

Latest Ministry of Agriculture bulletin indicate that late rains onset, poor distribution and erratic rain patterns affected the crop planted early in most parts of the country.

It notes that planting was delayed in some parts of the country and this is expected to cause a reduction in total production.

It also warned that fall army worm infestation observed in Narok, Laikipia, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia and Elgeyo Marakwet would also negatively impact production.

According to Tegemeo, things are so dire that the country will be left with so little, if any, stock of maize by end of this month. It wants the Government to quickly remedy the situation by arranging for importation of the cereal to plug the deficit.

It has also called for tracking and making available data that would be useful in helping the Government make critical decisions on food security. ?

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