Production of Kenya’s number one staple food, maize, has fallen by a whopping 10.9 million in five years to December 2022 signaling the country’s wounded food security efforts.
Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicate that maize production fell from 44.6 million bags harvested in 2018 to 34.3 million bags last year, the lowest in more than a decade.
Despite efforts by the government to support farmers with subsidies on seeds and fertilizer, maize production continued to fall for five consecutive years against a consumption of 52 million bags, a factor largely blame on among others, poor rainfall and fall armyworm invasion.
“Production of maize decreased by 6.5pc from 36.7 million bags in 2021 to 34.3 million bags in 2022, largely occasioned by unfavourable weather conditions in 2022,” KNBS stated.
The country maize production fell to 44 million bags in 2019, 42.1 million bags in 2020 and 36.7 million bags in 2021 according to KNBS Economic Survey Report 2023.
The dip in production during the period saw prices escalated forcing to the government to intervene by allowing relaxing duties on imports to plug deficit and ease prices.
During the five year period the price of maize flour per kilogram shot up 84.2pc, from an average of Ksh 41.32 per kg in 2018 to Ks 71.10 per kg in 2022.
However according to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, interventions by the government is expected to see the country maize production rise to 44 million bags this year including imports from Zambia which should arrive in due course to stabilize prices.
“The commitment is once this harvest is done, the cost of unga will come down to levels that Kenyans have not experienced before and that’s why we are also asking for money from Treasury to help stabilize prices,” said Linturi.
Bad weather also saw the country lose millions of bags of key crops such as beans, potatoes, sorghum and millet.
Beans production declined by 3.6 million bags from 9.3 million bags harvested in 2018 to 5.7 million bags in 2022 while potato harvest fell from 1.9 million bags to 1.8 million bags over the same period.
“Similarly, production of beans decreased by 23pc to 5.7 million bags in 2022, while production of sorghum decreased by 20pc from 1.5 million bags in 2021 to 1.2 million bags in 2022. However, production of millet remained constant at 0.7 million bags in 2022,” said KNBS.