Prospects for a normal 2002/03 short-rains season have improved following the resumption of rainfall in key arable and pastoral areas.
The domestic supply of maize is adequate through June 2003. Maize prices are likely to decline shortly as long-rains harvesting in key areas is completed, and as the short-rains harvest begins February in Central, Eastern, Coast and Nyanza Provinces.
Agro-climatic and key production indicators in pastoralist areas have improved during December, with localized exceptions.
1. Food Security Conditions and Prospects
Food security prospects have improved significantly across the country during December, with localized exceptions. Initial fears of another mediocre season have been allayed somewhat by heavy rainfall in December. Noted improvements in pastoralist areas include increased pasture and browse and recharged surface and sub-surface water sources. The Arid Lands and Resource Management Project (ALRMP) has reported that livestock body conditions have improved and livestock birth rates have increased, improving milk availability and generally helping to reduce rates of child malnutrition. Conditions have been less favorable in most of Baringo, West Pokot, and parts of Marsabit, Mandera and Turkana Districts.
In general, livestock prices have increased, which is consistent with both the improvements in body condition and pastoralists' continued efforts to rebuild herds after the losses sustained over the past five to ten years.
Favorable December rains have also heightened prospects for near normal 2002/03 national maize output. National maize availability remains adequate through June 2003, barring unusual changes in production. As a result, maize prices have remained relatively stable in key reference markets. Prices are expected to decline because of increased supplies from the short-rains harvest, which begins in February, as well as the final input from the long-rains harvest, which is ending soon.