Nairobi, Kenya – The harvest from last season’s long rain in Kenya is expected to be below average due to the erratic rains and the Fall Army worm (FAW).
This is contained in a food security outlook released by the Famine Early Warning Systems Newtwork (FEWSNET) for the period for the July-September 2019 and October 2019- January 2020.
FEWSNET says that household food stocks from previous harvests have been depleted, and the long rains harvest in August-September is expected to be only 20 – 25 percent of average. As a result, households are relying on market food purchases at an atypical point in the season. Staple food prices in rural reference markets are simultaneously rising, but household income sources are limited to livestock sales, petty trading, and remittances due to below-normal agricultural wage labor opportunities.
‘In pastoral areas, deteriorating food access and poor milk availability are pushing more households into Crisis. Due to below-normal rangeland resource availability, livestock body conditions and value have declined. The decline in livestock prices coupled with rising staple food prices has caused the livestock-to-cereals terms of trade to fall, eroding household purchasing power. Physical access to milk at the household level is significantly below average due to atypically early and high levels of livestock migration. An estimated 70 percent or more livestock have migrated to dry season grazing areas across the country. It is expected that decreased food and milk intake is driving atypically high malnutrition prevalence in children under five years of age,” the outlook adds.
However as they say that every cloud has a silver lining, the outlook goes on to say that in western Kenya, above-average rainfall since early June has helped the unimodal February-September rainfall season to recover to near-average levels.
“After a poor start of season, most areas have received more than 145 percent of normal rainfall since June 1st. In high and medium agricultural potential areas, maize crop production prospects have improved and may be better than previously anticipated due to current and forecast rainfall,” FEWSNET says.
However, although many crops have recovered from past reports of Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation, FAW has newly affected about 200 acres of maize crop in Nakuru county. If not eradicated, FAW incidence is likely to spread further within the county and could spread to neighboring counties, negatively impacting crop development.
On food prices, FEWSNET says that staple food prices continued rising across most reference markets in June, driven by low market supply and the expectation of below-average long rains harvests. In addition, farmers are holding onto carryover stocks in high and medium producing areas with the aim of fetching higher prices later as market supply declines.
“Maize prices in the urban markets of Nairobi, Eldoret, and Kisumu were 10-16 percent above the five-year average, but remained near average in Mombasa due to imports of cheaper supplies from Tanzania. In marginal agricultural markets, maize prices ranged from average to 18 percent above average. In pastoral areas, prices were 15-21 percent above average in most reference markets. However, maize prices were average in Marsabit, where market supply benefits from trade with Ethiopia, and 20 percent below average in Turkana, where demand for maize tends to be low and markets are sufficiently supplied by Trans Nzoia County and Uganda,” the outlook concludes.