Brace your­selves for maize short­age in May next year

Tege­meo In­sti­tute re­searchers say sit­u­a­tion needs to be mon­i­tored. La Niña could hurt pro­duc­tion dur­ing the Oc­to­ber-De­cem­ber short rains

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics - AGATHA NGOTHO @agath­ang­otho

The gov­ern­ment has been warned of a pos­si­ble maize short­age in May next year.

This is after a food anal­y­sis car­ried out by the Tege­meo In­sti­tute in Bun­goma, Bu­sia, El­geyo Marak­wet, Kakamega, Nakuru, Nandi, Narok, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Mig­ori coun­ties.

The 10 coun­ties are key maize pro­duc­ers.

Tege­meo In­sti­tute di­rec­tor Mary Mathenge yes­ter­day said the weather depart­ment has pre­dicted the prob­a­bil­ity of La Niña, and given there is also drought, Kenya may not be able to get maize from her tra­di­tional sources.

“There is need for close mon­i­tor­ing and check­ing on what is hap­pen­ing, par­tic­u­larly with the short rains that could be hurt by the La Niña. This will help pol­i­cy­mak­ers take the re­quired ac­tion in time to avoid any cases of hunger,” she said

Kenya needs an es­ti­mate of nine mil­lion bags of maize by July next year.

Re­search as­so­ci­ate Fran­cis Karin yes­ter­day said La Niña could hurt pro­duc­tion dur­ing the Oc­to­ber-De­cem­ber short rains.

“If we are go­ing to run into any food short­age, be­gin­ning in May, we need to iden­tify where we will source our maize from.

“There is need to know the world maize price, fac­tor in the cost it will take to bring in maize in Kenya, add on to the 50 per cent im­port duty tar­iff within East Africa and see what the price of a bag is go­ing to be. Is it go­ing to be af­ford­able?” Karin said.

“We need to go back to our poli­cies. We had said we are not go­ing to rely on rain-fed agri­cul­ture for our food pro­duc­tion and the Galana-Ku­lalu [ir­ri­ga­tion scheme] was es­tab­lished for that.”

The re­searcher asked where the maize from Galana-Ku­lalu, which was es­tab­lished to bridge such gaps, is go­ing to and how much is be­ing pro­duced.

Karin said pre­dic­tions in­di­cate that the short rain har­vests could be 4.5 mil­lion bags, down from the usual five to six mil­lion bags when the rains are nor­mal.

“If this La Niña phe­nom­e­non de­vel­ops, we are likely to get two to one mil­lion bags of maize. There is also the prob­a­bil­ity that hunger may hit us faster. In­stead of May it may hit us in April be­cause our har­vest will be very small,” he said.

“Peo­ple tend to ig­nore signs and then they make it a cri­sis at the last minute and this be­comes an av­enue for cor­rupt prac­tices of sin­gle sourc­ing maize at ex­or­bi­tant prices in­stead of ten­der­ing. This is the sit­u­a­tion we do not want to find our­selves in next year.”

GARI /ALPHONCE

A sec­tion of the model farm which was set up by Green Arava com­pany from Is­rael at the Galana Ku­lalu food se­cu­rity project

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