Kenya. Grain harvests to drop by 5.7%


Kenya is set to record a 5.7 per cent decline in this years grain harvests, a UN report says.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Crop Prospect and Food Situation Quarterly Global Report says the total cereal production last year was 44.4 million 90-kilogramme bags, but this year will have 42.2 million bags.

The FAO report attributed this to the poor weather in the long-rain season and the Fall armyworm infestation.

“Crop output is estimated at below-average levels as the March-May rains were generally erratic and insufficient, resulting in reduced planted areas and yields. Similarly, erratic rains affected maize production in southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas of Kenya, with very low yields estimated in southeastern Tharaka Nithi, Meru North, Kitui, Makueni and Embu counties,” it reads.

It points out that in key-growing areas of the Rift Valley and Western regions, the long-rains were characterised by a late onset and a prolonged dry spell in June and this caused moisture stress and crop wilting.

Improved rainfall in July and August partly offset the moisture deficits, but some crop damage was irreversible and the maize output is forecast at about 18 per cent — below average.

The report, released early this week, says about 2.6 million people, mainly from the eastern, southeastern and coastal areas, are severely food insecure. This is because of the negative impact of poor short-rains last year and below-average long rains this year.

In East Africa, cereal imports are anticipated to rise in Kenya and South Sudan to compensate for smaller outputs in 2017, with Kenya also drawing on stocks to offset the lower harvest and help curb imports,” the report reads.

Lower import needs are forecast in Southern African countries due to this year’s production increases, notably in Zimbabwe, where imports are expected to fall by one million tonnes on a yearly basis.”

The latest Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum weather forecast says the October-December rains are likely to be above average in cropping areas in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Somalia.

This will boost the second season harvests. However, seasonal rainfall is likely to be below average in pastoral areas of northeastern Kenya, Somalia, southern Ethiopia and Uganda’s Karamoja, potentially resulting in further worsening of rangeland conditions.

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