Food crisis worsens as rains fail

Thursday July 9 2009

By NATION Correspondent

Kenya will still have to pull out its begging bowl next year. Weather experts predict a low harvest due to poor rains.

Farmers have been grappling with irregular patterns of rain, even as several million people continue facing starvation.

According to the Kenya Meteorological Department’s July report, the situation could get worse because the cold season is likely to continue throughout the month with no rains.

Crop losses have been reported in several parts of the country, especially the North Rift, following a prolonged dry spell.

More significant losses occurred after the failure of rains in many of the coastal and southeastern lowlands, said Dr David Mukabana, the meteorological director.

Water rationing

“The generally dry conditions during this time of the year are likely to lead to further deterioration of the dam levels following the depressed rainfall during the ‘long rains’. Rationing of power and water for domestic use may not be avoided,” he added.

Some farmers in North Rift, the country’s grain basket, abandoned cultivation of maize during the March to April planting period, fearing losses. The region recorded low rainfall, which interfered with the planting schedule for most farmers.
In areas where farmers went ahead with planting, the crops had withered due to inadequate moisture.

Most farmers might be forced to replant now that heavy rains are pounding the region especially in the last few days.

The next major harvest is not anticipated until March 2010 and the emergency operation is fraught with food gaps, according to Famine Early Warning Systems Network.