NEWS SERVICE REPORTS
FROM THE AFRICAN
shortages due to elections
ministry of agriculture has called on farmers to
speed up land preparation and save the country
a potential food crisis with coming of the long
REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPOND
(Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government has
warned of a looming food shortage due to prolonged
political campaigns in the East African nation
which resulted in the historic general elections
Minister for Agriculture Dr. Sally Kosgei said a
potential food crisis could hit the East African
nation owing to the disruption of farming
activities in the grain basket region of the Rift
Valley by increased political activities.
“Most farmers especially in the North Rift
region, shied away from tending to their farms in
good time for fear of the unknown,” Kosgei said
late Tuesday when she flagged off traditional high
value crops to be distributed to 99 regions spread
out in 31 counties across the country.
The minister said the ministry will also
distribute 1.5 million cassava cuttings and 2.4
million sweet potato vines in the arid and semi
arid areas parts of the country so as to minimize
famine in drought situation.
“The ministry’s policy for quite sometime now
has been to promote the traditional foods in this
country. What we have now are better yielding
seeds for the traditional foods because that is
the only way we can avoid constant famine,”
Kenya’s food security has minimally been
affected by dry spells after the start of the
short rains in October that slowed recovery
following timely onset of the October-December
2012 short rains.
In December 2012, UN agencies and partners
launched 743 million U.S. dollar in humanitarian
appeal to help nearly 2 million food insecure
Kenyans and 674,000 refugees residing in the
refugee camps in northern region.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) said the 3-year Kenya’s Emergency
Humanitarian Response Plan (EHRP) , which
comprises 116 projects from more than 50
organizations, is likely to be the last year of
doing so as the country transitions from
humanitarian crisis to recovery.
While food prices tend to decline between January
and April normally, persistently high above
average and stable food prices will continue to
limit households’ capacity to purchase food and
consequently impact negatively on their food
The government and the African Development Bank
last month signed a loan agreement amounting to
57.66 million U.S. dollars aimed at improving
Kenya’s drought resilience.
The funds will be used to finance activities that
will enhance Kenya’s food security particularly
in the agriculture and livestock sectors. Kenya
will use the 57.55 million dollars, soft loan to
provide a lasting solution to the perennial
drought that affects the economy.
But food security experts said the political
uncertainty that had characterized the just
concluded polls had its negative impact on the
country’s food security as farmers in the
country’s food basket, failed to till their land
in good time for the current planting season.
“Farming has been disrupted by elections mainly
because people abandoned their farms and went out
looking for handouts from politicians,” food
security expert Paul Mbuni said.
Mbuni who is also the national chairman for the
Kenya Society for Agricultural Professionals (Kesap)
said the immediate impact of the political
activities on food production would be felt at
“This has happened across the country and
particularly in the food basket areas such as
Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu (northwest), “ he
said and expressed fears that should election go
for run-off, the country shall have another one
month, which will be wasted on political
“It is feared that politics have disrupted land
preparation in some regions, including the North
Rift and Upper Western, the country’s major
grain basket, which produces close to 10 million
to 12 million bags of maize during the peak
season,” Mbuni said.
But the ministry of agriculture has called on
farmers to speed up land preparation and save the
country from a potential food crisis with coming
of the long rains.
“It is a worrying state of affairs when the
country’s food security is under a threat. This
season land preparations have been quite poor. We
have achieved only 40 percent while in essence we
should have done 80 percent,” Permanent
Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Romano
The reduced farming activities were mainly
witnessed in the North Rift region where farmers
avoided serious land preparations following the
The government is however determined to change
this by offering support to farmers by providing
the necessary farm inputs.
“We work very closely with meteorological
department and we want them to plant these
seeds,” Kosgei said.
The ministry initiated the Traditional High Value
Crops (THVC) program in 2006 with the main aim of
improving access to quality seeds through
community seeds multiplication.
Since its inception, the program has distributed a
total of 5, 420 tonnes of assorted drought
tolerant seeds, 15.4 million sweet potato vines
and 15.9 million cassava cuttings all valued at
16.4 million U.S. dollars.
The additional support is expected to increase
farm yields with focus expected to shift to post
harvest management to avoid huge losses incurred
by farmers through improper storage and handling
of their harvest.
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