Reference Date: 12-February-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Unfavourable prospects for 2012/13 “short-rains” season crops
Maize prices decline in most markets
Food security situation expected to worsen in south-eastern and coastal marginal cropping areas
Below average production expected from the 2012/13 short-rains season crops
In bimodal south-eastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, harvesting of 2012/13 short-rains season crops is about to start and production is expected at well below average levels. The October to December “short-rains” season has performed poorly with below average and uneven temporal and spatial distribution, especially in Mwingi, Kitui, Makueni and Taita Taveta districts. A series of dry spells also caused poor germination, increasing replanting needs (up to three times) and leading to wilting and drying out of crops. In some areas, rains resumed at mid-December and continued off-season in early January with some positive impact on yields of wilted crops and grazing resources. Few farmers decided to re-plant at the end of 2012 and currently crops are being harvested for green consumption. Late and off-season rains have also improved livestock body conditions that were very poor. The “short-rain” season cereal harvest normally accounts for about 20-25 percent of the total annual production.
Overall, the 2012/13 cereal production is estimated at about 3.2 million tonnes, about 15 percent below the previous year and 8 percent below the last five years average. Accordingly, cereal import requirements for 2012/13 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at about of 2.28 million tonnes, including one million tonnes of maize, 800 000 tonnes of wheat and 400 000 tonnes of rice. At this level, the import forecast is slightly lower than last year’s high level, but 8 percent above the average of the previous five years.
2013 long-rains forecast at average to below average levels
Planting of the 2013 “long-rains” season crops is about to start in major growing areas of Central, Rift Valley and Western provinces. Meteorological forecasts for the 2013 March to May rainy season point to an average to below average rainfall levels. In addition, concerns are raised about a possible scaling down of maize planting in parts on account of the presidential elections that are scheduled to take place in March 2013.
Maize prices decline in most markets and remain lower than last year
Prices of maize, after having seasonally peaked in June/July, began to decline as the 2012 “long-rains” harvest became available from August. In Eldoret and Nakuru markets, located in the major producing area of the Rift Valley, wholesale maize prices have declined by 25 and 30 percent between July and December, respectively. Prices levelled or slightly increased in January 2013, as the harvest neared its completion. Compared to January 2012, prices in January 2013 were 8 percent lower in Nakuru and 16 percent lower in Eldoret. In the capital Nairobi, prices have been declining since November 2012 (-22 percent between November and January) and in January 2013 are 13 percent below their levels of 12 months earlier. Maize prices are stable or even increasing in some south-eastern and coastal areas that experienced a poor 2012/13 short-rainy season.
Food security expected to worsen in parts
The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is estimated at about 2.1 million. The poor performance of the 2012/13 short-rains season in south-eastern and coastal zones may result in an upward revision of this number as food stocks are expected to be only partially replenished and may quickly be depleted. In addition, opportunities of casual labour in agriculture (especially weeding and harvesting) have been particularly scarce, significantly limiting households’ food access.
As of mid-January 2013, according to UNHCR and OCHA, about 550 000 refugees, mostly from Somalia, were hosted in Dadaab and Kakuma camps in northern Kenya and access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, water and sanitation is often precarious due to the high concentration of people.