KENYA – Kenya is likely to face a maize deficit between June and July, with the Ministry of Agriculture saying available stocks are likely to last only until the end of May.

The food balance sheet report — which gives the status of available food in the country—indicates that Kenya had 15 million bags of maize as at January 31, with the next harvest expected in August.

“The current maize stocks of 15.24 million bags can only last the country for a period of four months, based on the national monthly consumption of 3.2 million bags,” says the ministry in the report.

The deficit would have to be made up by maize imports.

The ministry says if weather pattern in the 2017 long rains season will be favorable, then the next maize crop harvest will commence from July and August in South Rift and western Kenya.

Normally, the short term crop starts in August and it plays an important role in supplementing the long grain crop from the country’s breadbasket of North Rift.

The report notes that from the current food stocks, the country has a shortfall of 7.5 million bags, which has seen the price of the staple increase by 32 per cent on average compared to the same period last year.

Maize forms 80 per cent of the raw material used in making of flour and this sharp increase has seen the shelf price of maize flour rise in tandem.

The price of a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour was stable before last September, ranging between Sh104 and Sh105.

In October to December the price increased marginally from an average of Sh106 to Sh109. However, the cost increased sharply to Sh126 early this month.

The maize crop performance for the long rainy season of 2016 was not optimal whereas the short rains crop was near total failure, the report says.

“The total realized production from the short rains season crop was 1.7 million bags of 90 kilograms against a target of six million bags,” the ministry says in the report.

“The depressed long rains performance resulted in 32.8 million bags of maize against an expected production of 38 million bags. This represents a short fall of 5.2 million bags for long rains production.”

Food stocks at various levels- households, traders and millers — are below optimal for this time of the year.

The stocks held by farmers are estimated at 10 million bags, traders, 2.7 million bags, millers 993,637 bags, while the National Cereals and Produce Board has a total of 1.4 million bags.

February 22, 2017;