Todays Daily Nation Newspaper carried this story.
Food deficit: Things are not looking good
Publication Date: 3/24/2008
Although the skies have been overcast these past few days, and although the rain has fallen in some parts of the country, these are not auguries of good harvests this season, and the country is headed for acute food shortages in the next few months.
Besides unpredictable rains which have, in the past couple of years been falling at the wrong time, there are two other reasons for the looming hunger and starvation in many parts of the country.
The first one is the insecurity in Kenya’s breadbasket – the vast area in Western Province and North Rift where maize and other grains like wheat do well.
This region was badly hit by the worst forms of politically-related violence since December last year, leading to many of those who farmed the land being evicted, while arsonists had a field day setting granaries on fire without a thought as to what they will eat when the political fire in their bellies turned to cold ash.
This has had obvious implications. Some of those who grew food in the Rift Valley might not return to those areas. Most of the land where food is grown is, therefore, unprepared.
As a result, all the maize-producing areas are about to experience record deficits this season, and even if the weather pattern holds true, there is no likelihood that the situation will become normal.
The second reason is that the prices of inputs have hit the roof. The explanation for this is not clear besides the fact that for at least two months, it was not possible to bring in imported fertilisers and other inputs due to the violence.
According to experts, and by the Government’s own admission, the country may be faced with a five million-bag food deficit, wiping out the current grain reserves by August.
This is a grim situation. This country has faced natural calamities like prolonged droughts. Now, with this added hindrance of insecurity, murder and arson, it is unclear whether the Government has many options but to start seeking food aid early enough to stave off hunger.
What it cannot do is to sit on its hands and hope that things will look up. They won’t, any time soon, and the earlier it gets cracking, the better for the country.
It saddens me as we feel so helpless. If anyone had believed in Prep-Aid Famine Relief Seed Project we would have at least made a small difference.