KENYA – The government of Kenya has shut livestock markets along the Kenya/ Tanzania and Kenya/ Somalia borders, prompted by lack of compliance to the set guidelines by government on Covid-19 pandemic considering that Corona Virus cases in Wajir County, Northern Kenya were related to livestock trade.

Other livestock markets that have also been shut are in Narok, Kwale, TaitaTaveta , Shambole market in Namanga Kajiado County and also DIF and Dagahaley markets in Wajir.

Agriculture, livestock and fisheries Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Ann Nyagah said Ilbisil market in Kajiado is being monitored closely and may soon be shut down if stakeholders continue not to comply with government’s regulations.

“While sensitization of stakeholders is being done by most counties, adherence to measures has been weak and thus once closed , the markets will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they have a capacity to enforce the protocols and ensure full compliance before reopening”, Nyagah said.

She however said that traders can still be able to access livestock for trade from individuals informally since no slaughterhouses have been shut and the supply of meat is not drastically affected across all counties.

The Ministry is committed to ensure agri-food supply chain is not responsible for an upsurge of new Covid-19 infections and in response to concerns raised by livestock value chain actors.

On the issue of food balance, the CAS said that farmers across the country are selling their maize to various millers at market rates proof that there is enough local supply for the current demand of maize from last season’s harvest.

She however continued that the government has initiated the process of maize importation by the private sector through gazette notice of last month April 20th and the imports are meant to fill the gap the country is expecting to experience between the months of June and July 2020.

Nyagah said the ministry further is in the process of getting rid of 124,625 bags of 50kgs each of condemned maize stocks that is unfit for human and animal consumption due to aflatoxin infestation.

The stock, she confirmed is not new and therefore not included in the calculation of current food balance stocks.

The CAS acknowledged that there have been some fluctuations in prices of cereals notably maize and rice over the past two weeks owing to the disruption of the markets and the transport system.

The government is however in talks with various stakeholders and is keeping a close eye to ensure the changes are temporary and minimal so that food remains affordable.

“The increase in rice prices is a direct result of reduced imports from countries such as Pakistan and as we work on destabilizing the prices, we have put in measures to increase local rice production through the Kenya National Trading Cooperation (KNTC)”, Nyagah said.

As of April 1st 2020, the CAS noted that market price for rice had stabilized at Ksh 140 (US$1.32) per kg and farmers have already been paid a total of Ksh 165 million (US$1.5m) to increase production to benefit the increased demand.

Nyagah said that since the establishment of Covid 19 food security war room and food security hotline, the government has been monitoring the availability of staple foods to ensure adequate food supply for all Kenyans during this period.

Nyagah noted that the government has now an action plan to actualize the 1million kitchen gardens initiative that they launched earlier and will be providing starter kits that will include seed inputs of five types of vegetables namely Kale, Spinach, black nightshade amaranths and cowpeas seeds.

“In partnership with AfDB bank, mapping has begun to identify the first 111,000 households across 21 counties while 19,750 beneficiaries have already been funded under the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) programme and 17,002 beneficiaries under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP),” Nyaga said.