Special Report: Kenya Long Rains Rapid Crop Assessment (updated September 24th, 2019)



• Planted area of the long rains maize crop in Kenya was significantly reduced compared to the previous year due to delayed onset of the March to May rains and widespread drought over the marginal agricultural areas of eastern, central, and coastal Kenya.

• Long rains maize production outlook is estimated at 20 percent below the 2018 bumper harvest and 10 percent below the average 2016 harvest.

• In agropastoral and marginal agricultural areas of central, southeastern and coastal Kenya, long rains maize harvest finished in August and production is estimated at about 50-60 percent below-average, with a near failure of the harvest reported in southeastern areas (Figure 1).

• By contrast, in key growing areas of Rift Valley and western provinces, where the long rains season (which normally extends from March to August) improved rains from May onwards, mostly offsetting rainfall deficits and resulting in a partial recovery of waterstressed and late-planted crops.

• Maize harvest over the West and Rift Valley will begin in late October to November and while yields are expected to be average due to improved rains from mid-May onwards (Figure 1), production prospects are below-average due to a delay in onset of the long rains and erratic rainfall, which caused an estimated 25 percent decrease in planted area.


In August, a rapid crop assessment was undertaken by the USAID Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET) and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) to assess the status of long rains maize production in Kenya. From this assessment, 2019 long rains maize production in Kenya is estimated to be approximately 20 percent below the 2018 bumper harvest and close to 10 percent below 2016 production (2016 is considered as an average year). The assessment found that national total planted area for the long rains maize was reduced by an estimated 45 percent (1.2 million hectares compared to a normal baseline of approximately 2.1-2.2 million hectares) due to the delayed onset of the March to May rains and drought (Figure 3), which resulted in extensive maize crop wilting and failure (Figure 2) over much of eastern, central and coastal marginal cropping areas. These areas account for about 25 to 30 percent of total long rains maize acreage in the country. This decrease in planted area is visible from satellite imagery over both marginal (Figure 4) and high producing areas (Figure 5), where significantly lower presence and vigor of crop and pasture vegetation is present close to the end of the cropping season compared with the same time in the 2016 season, which resulted in average production.