KENYA- Recent data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reveals that the production of Kenya’s number one staple food, maize, has fallen by a whopping 10.9 million in five years to December 2022, hampering the country’s food security efforts.
According to the statistics bureau, maize production fell from 44.6 million bags harvested in 2018 to 34.3 million bags last year- the lowest it has been in over a decade.
While the government consistently supported farmers with seeds and fertilizer subsidies, maize production continued to fall for five consecutive years against consumption of 52 million bags annually.
This exponential reduction in production resulted from poor rainfall and fall armyworm invasion, among other factors.
“Production of maize decreased by 6.5pc from 36.7 million bags in 2021 to 34.3 million bags in 2022, largely occasioned by unfavorable weather conditions in 2022,” KNBS stated.
The KNBS Economic Survey Report 2023 indicates that this reduction has been occurring year-on-year, falling to 44 million bags in 2019, 42.1 million bags in 2020, and 36.7 million bags in 2021.
The dip in production during the period saw prices escalate, forcing the government to intervene by relaxing duties on imports to plug the deficit and ease pressure on prices.
During the five years, the price of maize flour per kilogram shot up 84.%, from an average of Kes 41.32 per kg in 2018 to Kes 71.10 per kg in 2022, and is now more than Kes 100.00 in 2023.
However, according to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, interventions by the government are expected to see the country’s maize production rise to 44 million bags this year, including imports from Zambia which should arrive in due course to stabilize prices.
“The commitment is once this harvest is done, the cost of unga will come down to levels that Kenyans have not experienced before, and that’s why we are also asking for money from Treasury to help stabilize prices,” said Linturi.
Unfavorable weather also saw the country lose millions of bags of major crops such as beans, potatoes, sorghum, and millet.
Beans production declined by 3.6 million bags from 9.3 million bags harvested in 2018 to 5.7 million bags in 2022, while potato harvest fell from 1.9 million bags to 1.8 million bags over the same period.
“Similarly, production of beans decreased by 23% to 5.7 million bags in 2022, while production of sorghum decreased by 20% from 1.5 million bags in 2021 to 1.2 million bags in 2022. However, production of millet remained constant at 0.7 million bags in 2022,” said KNBS.