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