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That Kenya is Food Insecure May Not Be In Doubt

The world statistics on food security places the Republic of Kenya among the countries that are facing acute  food shortage and adverse  insecurity. Food insecurity does not only refer to lack of its availability but also accessibility. Today as we speak, many Kenyans, as individuals, families and communities, are facing drastic food shortage and inaccessibility. The Arid and Semi Arid regions are the worst affected areas while, food crisis is evolving to a nation wide calamity if rains fail again. Prices of the available food is skyrocketing while the Government is seeking remedial means to facilitate the process. The following is the report extracted from the http://www.fao.org/giews/food-prices/food-policies/detail/en/c/886937/

The Government announced to grant temporary subsidies to maize imports and to sell imported maize to millers at an average price of KES 2 300 (USD 21.87) for a 90 kg bag of maize flour, compared to the average cost of more than KES 4 000 (USD 38) in the local market. Millers will then brand the flour with the Government of Kenya (GOK) label and sell the 2 kg packs of maize flour at a price not higher than KES 90 (USD 0.86), down from about KES 140 (USD 1.33) reported in April. The Government had already allowed millers to import maize from any country and exempted maize flour from value added tax (FPMA Food Policies). These measures aim to reduce retail prices of maize, which have been on an increasing trend since early 2017. Prices were at record or near-record highs in April, underpinned by reduced supplies from the 2016 short-rains second season harvest and concerns over the upcoming 2017 long-rains harvest due to early season dryness and army worm infestations. In order to mitigate reduced availabilities and high prices of other essential food items, the Government has also waived duty on imported sugar and milk powder. The general increase in food prices pushed consumer price inflation to 11.5 percent year-on-year in April, a near five-year high.

I remember President Emilio Mwai Kibaki (2002-2013) saying clearly that one cannot govern a country without statistics and planning in advance. The population of Kenya has been growing steadily in the recent decades. The agricultural outputs have decreased due to high rate of demand and supply. In terms of public policies, the national government decided to initiate big food projects including the maize scheme on Tana Delta. The project costed Kenya over 2 billion shillings as investment in food and agriculture. The national government then devolved the agricultural function to counties, as a way of enabling food producers and farmers to generate more output. Several counties did too little or nothing about it. Siaya County hired tractors to tilt the lands for farmers but corruption and conditions were over estimated by the executive officers. Not many farmers benefited. The same county has been at loggerhead with Dominion Farm limited, a Canadian organization doing so much in food production. Some evil bent politicians have been demanding that the company should wind-up and give the land back to the local communities.

National politicians have not addressed food crisis in a proper and logical manner. Since most of the maize importing companies and millers belong to the same politicians, so much money has been channeled to enrich the few politicians. Now sugar price has short up from 120 per 2 kilogrammes to 390 kilogrammes. Milk 750 ml has short up from 41 shillings to 75 shillings. Maize flour, which is not available, short up from 90 shillings to 180 shillings making it impossible for low income families and individuals to access.

The same calamity has moved from serious to critical as maize flour is not available in the distribution outlets in the country. The politicians, as usual, play the blame game. It has become a campaign tool. The solution seems to be remote as per now. So many Kenyans go hungry. This is generating poor health to many people who cannot even access health care. Nurses in the public hospitals are also on strike. Climate change has also affected many regions. The government allocations for food and agriculture have also been reduced as compared to the last years.

The question that Kenya is among the countries where food is a big threat is not in doubt. So many women and children are badly affected. The problem is not only in the known arid areas but also in the large cities such as Nairobi.

We cannot sit back and watch. The government in office has failed to come up with clear and pragmatic policies to address the food emergency. The few rich who are also in power assume the problem of the ordinary individuals. It is as though all is well. All is not well and Kenya is the worst countries when it comes to food security. It is hard to survive here. So many Kenyans go hungry on a daily basis. Some switch to criminality, stealing, attacking, prostitution for food, among many other evils.

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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

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