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Kenya faces Sh13.6b in crop losses due to Corona, locusts

By Nicholas Waitathu
Thursday, July 9th, 2020
Locust invasion. Photo/File
In summary
    • Agriculture is one of Africa’s most important economic sectors, making up 23 per cent of the continent’s GDP. In sub-Saharan Africa, it provides work for nearly 60 per cent of the economically active population.
    • A new McKinsey analysis warns that Covid-19 has created significant demand-side pressure that may worsen food insecurity on the continent owing to loss of incomes and potential food price increases caused by localised supply shocks and depreciating currencies.
    • Existing vulnerabilities in Africa’s agricultural and food systems, combined with demand and supply shocks likely to flow from Covid-19, could be heightened unless mitigating actions are taken now.
    • Most African countries have declared agriculture and related activities an essential service and have made an effort to keep borders, ports, and inland transport routes open. This has helped to ensure that the continent’s agricultural and food systems retain some resilience.

Kenya stands to lose an estimated Sh13.6 billion worth of crop produce this year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and desert locust invasion.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said that even though the current food situation is stable, production and supply during the year is also likely to be affected by inadequate utilisation of recommended inputs.   

“National food and nutrition security is stable following near normal and good performance of the 2019 long and short rain seasons and adequate food is available in all markets despite current Covid-19 restrictions,” he said.

Munya who spoke during a webinar hosted by the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives, said food production may be further disrupted by other hazards like floods and low purchasing power due to loss of livelihoods for some households.

“Depleted household resources to procure inputs and unavailability of the same due to supply and distribution challenges are further expected to frustrate food production,” the CS told the committee yesterday.

Munya added that in all the counties grappling with desert locust infestation, about 40 per cent of the cropped area will be lost thereby exposing households to food and nutrition insecurity.

Hem, however, hastened to add that farmers will be assisted with farm inputs so that they can maintain their production capacity in the subsequent season.

Munya said 2019 long and short rains resulted in a production of about 43.3 million (90 Kg) bags of maize, which is a slight decline compared to 44.5 million bags produced in 2018.

However, production of other food staples –beans, rice, wheat remained normal, he added.

Food commodities

“The prices of maize and wheat have increased following uncertainties brought about by the Covid-19 as well as locust invasion in some counties. However, the prices of other food commodities have remained stable,” Munya said.

Estimated maize stock as at  May 1 was 12,200,814 bags, beans stock 4,537,684 bags, Wheat stocks 2,919,028 bags and rice 1,124,568 bags. 

Food Balance sheet projected to end of this month shows a surplus of 1,880,704 bags of maize, 4,273,559 bags of beans, 1,911,175 bags of wheat and 411,580 bags of rice.

Munya said the available maize balance is sufficient up to end of this month. 

“A shortfall of maize is anticipated in the months of June and July, therefore two million bags of 90 kgs white and yellow each will be imported by the private sector as per the Gazette notice No. 3234 of April 20,” he added.

To ensure that there are no disruptions in supply, the ministry has created a Food Security Wall Room that is continuously monitoring food production supply and consolidation of emerging issues for appropriate action by concerned institutions and agencies.