Future of food situation to improve as prices decline

Sunday June 18 2017

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett addresses miraa farmers

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett addresses miraa farmers at Maua Polytechnic on June 13, 2017. He said the government is tackling the food crisis. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has said that the national food security situation is expected to gradually improve from mid-June as harvesting has already began in some parts of the country.

Mr Bett said that the government recognised that Kenya is fighting food crisis, but said that prices of major household goods have been stabilising, with most expected to decline further as harvesting picks up.

He disclosed that the national maize, wheat, beans and rice balance sheets indicated that only maize would not be adequate to sustain the country into the next harvest season; it shows that only a surplus of 4.9 million bags were available.

"Bean prices are stabilising at almost normal prices of between Sh5,800 and Sh7,000 per 90kg bag and prices [are] expected to decline further as harvesting will pick up by end of the month, and should improve with the supplies," Mr Bett said.

Black beans (njahi) for example have moved up from Sh8,000 per 90kg bag to Sh10,800, between December and last month.

He also said that the national government had mapped out logistics for imported maize to ensure there are no delays at the Mombasa port; with Kenya Ports Authority opening other parts of the facility, aside from the grain berths, to be used in offloading.

However, he said that drought and food insecurity in some parts of the country are still critical.

The CS said that a mid-season assessment done in May attributes the slow recovery to poor seasonal rains.

"The situation is critical, particularly in nine arid counties: Isiolo, Wajir, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Garissa, Mandera, Baringo, and parts of Kitui," he said.

He was speaking in Delta Towers in Nairobi in a meeting attended by Council of Governors chairperson Josphat Nanok and County Executives in charge of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

He said that the national government would work together with county governments to develop a strategy to avert future food crises in the country.

As a way of preventing such problems, he said the government in May finalised a policy giving county governments control over the small irrigation schemes within their regions, while the national government runs mega irrigation projects such as