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FAO warns of looming food shortage

By Antony Gitonga | November 22nd 2013

By Antony Gitonga                     

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned Kenyans to brace for famine and high food prices next year.

The United Nations body  cited failed rainfall, high prices of farm inputs, uncertified seeds and lethal maize diseases  as the factors that will contribute to the food shortage.

The warning came as the Government, FAO and other development partners embarked on an assessment of the food security situation in high and medium potential areas of the country.

April next year

According to FAO National Food Security Officer Simon Muhindi, food production in the country would drop by between 30 and 40 per cent.

“Kenyans have to brace for hard times come April next year due to failed rains and we expect maize production to fall from 36 million bags to 24 million bags this year,” he said.

Muhindi revealed that FAO had contributed Sh24 million towards the food security assessment.

“The assessment runs for around a week and we expect to release a report on December 5 on the current food situation in the country,” he said.

Smartphone technology

FAO Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Officer Joseph Matere said 24 counties would be covered in the assessment.

Matere said smartphone technology would be used to collect and relay data from the field. The exercise will target the crops, fisheries and livestock sectors.

“FAO is supporting the Government in the annual assessment and we shall use a smartphone system, which is efficient, working in real time and giving readily available data. It also helps put in mitigation measures,” he said.

The GIS officer noted that at the end of the assessment, the nine teams spread across the country would come up with national cereal, milk and fish balance sheets.

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