Reference Date: 27-April-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
“Short-rains” crop production estimated at above-average levels
Planting of “long-rains” crops delayed by erratic onset of seasonal rains
Prices of maize at low levels on most markets
Food security conditions improving in most agro-pastoral and pastoral areas
“Short-rains” 2015/16 season harvest estimated at above‑average levels
The 2015/16 “short-rains” harvest has just been completed in bi-modal rainfall areas and crop production is estimated at about 15 percent above the last five-year average. Yields have been particularly good in most southeastern areas where, despite some localized floods, rainfall has been timely and abundant (supported by the prevailing El Niño conditions) and well-distributed, inducing farmers to significantly increase the area planted. By contrast, in coastal marginal agricultural areas, the “short-rains” had an uneven temporal and spatial distribution that affected crop development, especially maize, of which local production is officially estimated to be about 10-30 percent below the average of the previous five years.
Aggregate cereal production in 2015 is estimated at 4.5 million tonnes, about 3 percent up from the average of the previous five years. Accordingly, cereal import requirements for the 2015/16 marketing year (July/June) are set to decline by about 10 percent from the previous year to about 2.4 million tonnes, including 1.3 million tonnes of wheat and wheat flour, 610 000 tonnes of maize and 440 000 tonnes of rice.
Delayed planting of 2016 “long-rains” season crops
Planting of the 2016 “long-rains” season crops has started in April, with two-three dekads of delay, following the late and erratic start of the rainy season. After some early rains during the first dekad of March, precipitations subsided for about two dekads until early April, when they resumed in the western highlands, with particularly abundant amounts around the Lake Victoria basin. Currently, significant soil moisture deficits persist in most central and eastern cropping areas, affecting crop germination/development and pasture conditions (see NDVI anomaly map). In particular, the FAO Agricultural Stress Index (ASI) highlights a high risk of drought conditions developing in Kitui (see ASI map). According to official meteorological forecasts, rains are expected to be favourable in May in most areas of the country, likely offsetting most of the current moisture deficits, except in northern Turkana, Marsabit, Isiolo and Wajir counties, which are expected to receive average to below-average rainfall amounts.
Maize prices at low levels in most markets
Wholesale prices of maize followed a steadily decreasing trend in recent months in the capital, Nairobi, declining by 14 percent between September 2015 and March 2016, as crops from the last two harvests increased market supplies. Subsequently, prices started to seasonally increase in April. In Eldoret market, located in a key‑producing area of the Rift Valley, after having declined by 13 percent between September and December 2015, prices increased by 16 percent between December 2015 and February 2016, largely due to institutional purchases by the National Cereals and Produce Board to replenish the stocks of the Strategic Grain Reserve. Since then, prices remained mostly stable in March and April. Overall, maize prices in April were between 5 and 12 percent below their levels of 12 months earlier on account of two consecutive above-average harvests.
Food security situation improving in most agro‑pastoral and pastoral areas
The overall food security situation has improved since the end of the lean season in October. The availability of crops from the last two good season harvests, coupled with low and declining maize prices, has generally improved households’ food access. The current number of acutely food insecure people is estimated at 640 000, about 41 percent less than in August 2015.
The country hosts a large number of refugees and asylum seekers, with about 416 000 refugees from Somalia as of late March 2016. About 80 percent of them reside in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Garissa county where access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, water and sanitation is often precarious due to a high concentration of people. In addition, as of mid‑April 2016, about 55 000 refugees have crossed over to Kenya since violence erupted in South Sudan in mid‑December 2013, with most of them currently residing in the northwestern area of Kakuma in Turkana county.