The general food security situation in the country remained stable in most parts of the country except in the ASAL areas that reported depressed supplies.
Owing to on-going long rains in most parts of the country, supplies of fresh vegetables improved in many parts of the country. However, owing to disasters such as floods, landslides as well as poor conditions of rural access roads destruction, supplies of major staples were disrupted leading to marginal increase of staple food prices, especially those of coarse grains and Irish potatoes. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the cost of living dropped slightly in April 2012 as the rate of inflation dropped to 13.06 percent compared to 15.61 percent in March 2012. Despite the drop in inflation, the consumer price index for food and non-alcohol beverages rose marginally by 0.92 percent to 133.74 in April 2012 compared to March 2012 when the index stood at 132.51.The slight increase was mainly driven by higher prices of milk, Irish Potatoes, maize and onions. Owing to on-going long rains in many parts of the country there was improvement on supplies and reduction of prices of fresh vegetables, carrot and tomatoes.
No harvesting of cereals was reported during the month. Consequently, the national maize stocks as at 30 th April 2012 stood at 15,920,175 bags down from 18,611,380 bags by March 2012 with NCPB holding 2,452,950 bags, farmers 10,684,175 bags, traders’ 2,261,750 bags and Millers 521,300 bags. At the end of March, beans stocks were 1,597,465 bags down from 1,964,138 bags in March while rice stocks increased to 417,460 bags compared to 346,618 bags in March 2012.
Taking into account the current levels of cross boarder inflows of grains through private sector imports, the available stocks are enough to last the country up to the period of earliest harvest of long rains crop estimated to be end of July 2012. The earliest harvests are expected in the South Rift, lower parts of Western and Nyanza Provinces. In the meantime, negative effects of the on-going rains such as transport difficulties in rural areas as well as higher post harvest losses are likely to disrupt commodity supplies and tightening of the local markets thus leading to general food price increases in the short run.
Specifically, places that are likely to suffer food scarcity and higher price volatility are the ASAL areas. The ASAL areas’ food scarcity in the coming month is exacerbated not only by their predominant fragile ecosystem but also by the fact that these areas also suffered from low crop production due to early cessations of the 2011/2012 short rains.