Kenya Food Security Alert: December 24, 2009

Situation Report
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Widening maize supply deficit to accentuate food insecurity

Expectations of a significantly below?normal 2009?10 maize harvest have raised serious concerns for food security in the northwestern and southern pastoral and southeastern marginal agricultural areas of Kenya. With the long rains maize harvest drawing to a close, the Ministry of Agriculture estimates total 2009?10 production at 2.29 million MT, consisting of long rains production of 1.84 million MT (nearly 27 percent less than the four?year average) and short rains production of 450,000 MT. USDA estimates total production at 1.8 million MT, with long rains output of 1.5 million MT and short rains output at the five?year average of 300,000 MT. Regardless of the precise production output, a maize deficit is expected to manifest in the second quarter of 2010. Furthermore, this deficit is certain to have a significant impact on access to food, due to continued upward pressure on commodity prices and decreased labor opportunities and income. In pastoral areas, the combination of reduced food availability and access, along with the lingering impacts of conflict in some areas, could result in rising levels of high and extreme food insecurity beginning in early 2010. In the southeastern marginal agricultural areas, which depend on short rains production for 70 percent of annual production, food security could begin to deteriorate after the first quarter of 2010 if January rains are below average.