Maize shortage signals price increase

Thursday 14th November, 2013 on Business Daily Africa

A Farmer In Uasin Gishu Inspects His Maize Crop. Over Reliance On Maize Has Pushed Kenya’s Annual Consumption To 40 Million Bags. Photo FILE Over-reliance on maize has pushed Kenya’s annual consumption to 40 million bags. Both the Ministry of Agriculture and food policy think tank Tegemeo Institute have predicted that this year’s maize harvest will be short by about 6.1 million bags due to inadequate rainfall and diseases affecting the crop. This year’s maize production had been projected at 43.3 million bags, but will drop to 33.9 million bags according to a report released by Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.

The shortage is predicted at a time when other East African countries that Kenya relies on for imports to supplement the local stocks are projected to also register shortages. A looming maize shortage is expected to raise prices of the staple grain and flour, exerting budget pressures on millions of Kenyan households.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei, a fortnight ago said the deficit would be filled through imports. This year’s production, according to the Tegemeo Institute report, represents a 15 per cent decline, coming at a time when over-reliance on maize has pushed the annual consumption to 40 million bags.

“The lethal necrosis disease ravaged 26,000 hectares of maize last year alone,” said Anthony Kioko, the chief executive officer of Cereal Growers Association in an interview.

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