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Government assures of food availability despite poor rains

KNA    The National food security outlook is still stable and most households have or can access most food staples.

According to the Food Balance Sheet Report compiled by the Agriculture Ministry for May and released Wednesday, marginal increase in food prices was noted with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increasing only by 0.2 percent, indicating the stability of most food supplies.

Agriculture and food crops PS Prof. Hamadi Boga, acknowledged that the imports of maize and rice increased in May, while imports of wheat and beans declined marginally.

“Most of the food markets have remained functional, indicating fairly good distribution of staple commodities between deficit and surplus regions,” he said.

He further confirmed that despite most ASAL county households beginning to experience food deficit, the availability of water, pasture and browse is still stable in most ASAL counties.

According to the Report, the 2021 March–May long rains ceased early in several counties now threatening prospects of 2021 crop performance.

But in the forecast for June-July-August Rainfall, the Meteorological Department reported that the season will be characterized by rainfall being concentrated over the western region and the coastal strip, while the rest of the country will remain generally dry.

Prof. Boga has explained that the maize balance sheet projected to end of August 2021, shows a surplus of about 11.9 million bags of maize.

He however added that this will be based on estimated 450,000 bags of maize imports by the region millers and approximately 7.3 Million bags harvest estimates from the long rains as at the end of August.

“The performance of maize crop for the long rains in Central Region is below long-term average but favourable for bean crop development”, Prof Boga said, noting that in North Rift slightly below average production of maize which is 80 to 90 per cent is expected in Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet and below average production of 50 per cent is expected in Baringo, Samburu, Laikipia and West Pokot counties.

This, he explained is due to decrease in area under the crop, poor rainfall performance and poor germination and Fall Army Worms (FAW) infestation and confirmed that the poor rainfall distribution might lead to crop failure in parts of West Pokot, Laikipia and Baringo Counties.

On maize imports, the PS noted that reduced importation attributed to restriction across the region saw the total quantity of maize import for the month of April being 16,731 bags   but later it increased to 118,329 bags in the month of May 2021.

“The total maize imports from January to May stands at 1,381990 bags compared to a total of 495,813 bags imported at the same period in 2020,” said Prof. Boga.

At the end of next month, he noted that the bean balance sheet projects a surplus of 4.05 million bags, an additional quantity to be dictated by estimated imports of 150,000 bags by the private sector and relief agencies and projected harvests from the long rains season of about 2.4 million 90 kg bags.

Wheat estimated harvests from the long rains is about three million bags as at the end of August which is likely to push a surplus of 4,384,931 million bags as a result of imports.

The country relies on importation to sustain the 2,000,000 bags consumed per month but the quantity of wheat grain imported in May 2021 decreased slightly to 1,701,552 90 kg bags compared to 1,779,602 90 kg bags imported in April 2021.

The total quantity of wheat import from January to May stands at 9,100,707 bags compared to a total of 8,104,041 bags for the same period in 2020.

The quantity of rice imported in May 2021 increased to 324,910 bags of 90Kg Bags compared to 121,711 bags imported in April while the cumulative quantity imported stands from January–April stands at 2,401,005 of 90 kg Bags.

Overall, according to the food balance sheet, the estimated domestic stocks at the end of May 2021 was 16.5 million bags of maize, 4.9 million bags of beans, Wheat stocks at 3.5 million bags and rice at 2.3 million bags.

            

The Food Balance Sheet projected to the end of August 2021 shows a surplus of about 11.9 million bags, million bags of maize, 4.0 million bags of beans, 4.3 million bags of wheat, and 735,000 bags of Rice.

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