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Irony of food shortage and abundance across the country

By Titus Too and Silah Koskei | March 19th 2019 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Women wait for relief food at Chemolingot in Tiaty, Baringo County yesterday. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Food producing regions are struggling to get market for their harvest, even as some counties stare at starvation due to drought.

Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi and Trans Nzoia counties, which have had bumper harvests, producing cereals, horticultural produce and dairy products, ironically border Baringo, Turkana and West Pokot, the counties ravaged by drought.

There are unconfirmed reports of deaths in drought affected regions, with more than 30,000 pastoralists fleeing to neighbouring countries in search of water, food and pasture.

Concerns are now being raised over the two sides of the coin; some counties in the North Rift having their stores filled up with food, while others suffer hunger and starvation.

The images, on social media, of emaciated people from the North Rift have spurred an initiative where residents are contributing whatever they have to help those in need.

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Through a newly formed group dubbed Okoa Maisha, the residents, including some county legislators, are mobilising support for those starving.

According to Harriet Njoki, one of the organisers, the group is accepting foodstuffs and clothes that will be taken to ravaged regions in the North Rift.

“We met and discussed as people from counties that are blessed with food to find a way to share it with those who have been ravaged by drought," said Ms Njoki.

Uasin Gishu branch Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo termed the hunger situation an embarrassment, blaming the leaders.

“The same leaders have lost touch with reality and are now focused on 2022 elections,” said Mr Menjo.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren said the country could be food secure if the Agriculture ministry was devolved to enable counties to plan well for their residents.

“It is ironical to face food shortages in Turkana when National Cereals and Produce Board stores are full of maize," said Mr Tiren.

Retired Anglican Church Bishop Thomas Kogo said maize farmers were faced with financial difficulties due to poor prices and delays by the Government in opening depots to buy their produce.

“Most farmers have not tilled their farms for the next planting. Majority have not sold last year’s produce. With lack of subsidised fertiliser for the current season, farmers will not afford expensive inputs sold by business people," said Mr Kogo.

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