Reference Date: 01-June-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Mixed production prospects for 2015 “long-rains” season crops
Water deficits affect grazing resources in most northeastern pastoral and agro-pastoral areas
Since April, maize prices are on the rise in most markets
Acute food insecurity conditions remain in most southeastern and coastal agricultural areas as well as northeastern pastoral areas
Mixed prospects for 2015 “long-rains” season crop production
In most agricultural areas, planting of the 2015 “long-rains” crops (to be harvested between August and the end of the year) has been completed in May with some delay due to a late onset of the long rainy season. Seasonal rains started at the end of March in bi-modal rainfall southeastern and coastal lowlands and at the beginning of April in uni-modal rainfall central and western key growing highlands. Then, between end-April and early May, rains were generally abundant, triggering some floods across Nyanza, Western and Nairobi regions with localized losses of germinating crops and livestock.
According to the latest available remote sensing data (see map on the right), above average vegetation conditions are reported in key growing counties of Meru, Tharaka, Embu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Muranga, Kiambu, Kericho and Homet. By contrast, crops have been affected by soil moisture deficits in southern marginal agricultural areas of Taita-Taveta, Kwale, Makueni, Kitui and Tana River counties.
Rainfall is expected to be erratic with below average amounts until the end of the season in June, in most southern and coastal lowlands (where the “long-rains” season harvest usually accounts for only about 30 percent of local annual production), while more favourable weather conditions are forecast for high to medium potential agricultural areas of central and western highlands, where “long-rains” normally continue until October/November.
Aggregate cereal production in 2014 is estimated at 3.8 million tonnes, about 6 percent below last five-year average. Accordingly, cereal import requirements for the 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) are set at an above-average level of about 3 million tonnes, including 1.5 million tonnes of wheat and wheat flour, 900 000 tonnes of maize and 540 000 tonnes of rice.
Water stress affecting pasture in most northeastern pastoral and agro-pastoral areas
In most northeastern pastoral areas, the “long-rains” season started at the end of March, with a delay of 2-3 dekads, and has been characterized by average to below-average rainfall amounts. While some of the migrated livestock have been returning to wet-season grazing areas, average trekking distances are still longer than normal, with consequent negative effects on livestock body condition and milk production. Significant soil moisture deficits are reported in Isiolo, Wajir, Marsabit, Mandera counties as well as in northern parts of Tana River and Garissa counties, where a three-week long dry spell occurred between the end of April and early May. Insufficient moisture levels are also reported in southern pastoral areas of Kajado and Taita-Taveta counties. If rains are favourable for the remaining of the rainy season, rangeland conditions are expected to improve through June/July, supporting livestock and milk productivity.
Maize prices rising in most markets
Despite substantial imports from Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, wholesale maize prices increased between March and May 2015 in main markets by about 15-20 percent following the below-average output of the 2015 “short-rains” season harvest gathered at the beginning of the year. In most marginal agricultural areas, households have exhausted their food stocks earlier than usual and are currently relying on local markets to access food. Greater price increases are reported in Nairobi market due to the strong local urban demand. Here, the average maize price increased by over 40 percent, from USD 250 per tonne last March to USD 360 per tonne in May.
Pockets of acute food security concentrated in southeastern and coastal agricultural areas as well as in northeastern pastoral areas
The number of acutely food insecure people is stable at about 1.6 million, mainly concentrated in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas. In particular, food security of poor households is a concern in southeastern and coastal areas that harvested a well below average “short-rains” season crop production at the beginning of the year. Here, food stocks were only partially replenished and most households started to rely on markets for their food requirements already in April/May, two-three months earlier than usual. Some improvements in food security conditions are expected in June following the harvest of short-cycle crops such as legumes.
As of early May 2015, the country hosts about 590 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia and South Sudan. About 80 percent of the Somali refugees reside in Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Garissa county, where access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, water and sanitation is often precarious due to the high concentration of people. In addition, an estimated 93 000 refugees have crossed over to Kenya since violence erupted in South Sudan in mid-December 2013 and are currently residing in the northwestern area of Kakuma in Turkana county. Humanitarian reports indicate that the most pressing needs include protection for separated children, registration and health services.