Kenya’s food security stabilizes

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Kenya’s food security is expected to remain stable until September by availability of food stocks that is supported by the increasing cross-border imports from Tanzania and Uganda, a food security report. The report by the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS Net), an agency which provides early warning and analysis on food insecurity, says the expected average long rains harvest from September through December will boost the country’s food security. “FEWS Net projects that the long rains harvest will be largely average,” says the report which is published in collaboration with the Kenya government. “Whereas the rains have been above average in high and medium potential agricultural areas, poor temporal distribution, which resulted in a lengthy dry spell in May and June, caused moisture stress to crops in the field,” FEWS Net said. According to the report, with the resumption of rains, most of the maize crop in the field is expected to recover from moisture stress, but some are unlikely to recover and develop to maturity. “As a result, production is likely to be just average. In addition, the long rains harvest from the marginal agricultural areas, though expected to be below average, will also boost the national food stocks,” it said. The report came after the government said it will release one million bags of maize directly to millers at a cost of 25 U.S. dollars per 90-kilogramme bag to stabilize rising flour prices. This, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said, will come from the strategic food reserve in Rift Valley, the grain basket region. Flour prices shot past 1 dollar per two-kilo packet in April as millers cited a grain shortage. The cheapest brand costs 1.04 dollars. The ministry of agriculture projects surpluses for maize, beans, wheat, and rice through the end of September, which is sufficient food to meet national requirements. Data from the ministry shows that at the end of May, the country had an estimated maize stock of 9.45 million bags. Farmers are believed to hold 4.5 million bags of maize while trades held two million bags. FEWS Net analysis of wholesale maize prices across major urban reference markets of Nairobi, Eldoret, and Kisumu, between April and May, shows stability. The only major fluctuations were observed in Mombasa, where prices increased 10 percent between this periods, mainly due to dwindling local supply. FEWS Net however says food insecurity conditions are likely to persist especially in the northeast, northwest, and southeast pastoral areas and coastal and southeast marginal agricultural areas.   Xinhua/Zainab Sa’id