COVID-19 Update: Food price in Kenya still on the high despite improved supply

KENYA – As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on people’s health and livelihoods, Kenya has registered a decline in Food inflation by a percentage point in May than the previous month due to favourable weather which reduced the cost of some food items.

However, supply chain disruptions meant that Kenyans were unable to benefit fully from the improved production.

According to a Central Bank of Kenya report, the cost of food items in the inflation basket went up by 10.6 per cent in May, compared to 11.6 per cent in March and April, and a high of 14.8 percent in February.

“Despite the favourable weather conditions the prices of some food items remained elevated because of the supply disruptions arising from the Covid-19 containment measures,” stated Central Bank of Kenya.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) on inflation for May showed that onions, tomatoes and beans recorded the biggest price increase per kilogramme year-on-year, while potatoes, carrots and spinach had the biggest drop.

The price of a kilo of onions rose by 21.8 percent last month compared to May 2019, tomatoes went up by 15.9 per cent while a kilo of beans was 10.9 per cent costlier.

On the other hand, carrots saw a price drop of 22.5 percent, spinach by 16.8 percent and Irish potatoes by 10.5 percent year-on-year.

The growth in food prices, however, remains high relative to that of other items on the inflation basket, where food carries the highest weight of 32.9 percent, reports Business Daily.

Overall inflation in May stood at 5.47 percent, compared to 5.62 percent in April.

Private sector players, banks and analysts expect Kenya’s inflation to remain within the preferred CBK target of five percent plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for the rest of the year.

Bottlenecks that have seen to restrict trade and movement in the East Africa region are also easing up with Kenya and Tanzania agreeing to reopen their borders after a tense week marked by a simmering trade dispute occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Kenya and Tanzania are trade partners, recording a turnover of more than $500 million (Sh53 billion) annually. We have reached an agreement that Tanzanian and Kenyan drivers will be subjected to the WHO standard Covid-19 testing in their territories and issued with clearance certificates,” said Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.

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