Blog about the upcoming food shortage crisis

Everybody throws stones at the prophet, but when the crisis comes they yell: “Why nobody warned us?”

Food prices soar in North Rift as farmers blame State

Publication Date: 4/7/2008
Food prices have shot up in most parts of the North Rift region, due to a decline in supply, sparking protests among consumers.

A maize crop: Many farmers have drastically reduced their acreage under maize and beans because productivity costs are out of their reach.

The rising cost of basic commodities including grains, cereals and vegetables has forced them to double their budgets, as traders express fears that the prices are likely to soar unless supply stabilises.

The shortage has been attributed to the recent drought that hit most parts of the region and the effects of violence.

“We’re receiving a limited supply of almost all basic commodities, which has been occasioned by drought and displacement, following the post-election chaos,” Mrs Susan Chepkoech, a trader at the Eldoret retail market, said.

Traders have been forced to import commodities like finger millet, sorghum and bananas from Uganda.

Traders said some of the farmers within the region were unwilling to sell their maize produce due fears of declined production of the crop this season, following increasing fuel and fertiliser prices.

“The increased food prices are straining our financial expenditure as we can no longer afford some of the commodities,” Mr Jackson Kimutai said.

The price of dry maize has increased from Sh1,100 to Sh1,250 per 90 kilogramme bag, while the same quantity of beans has gone up from Sh3,500 to Sh4,000 in the past few weeks.

Not been spared

A bag of potatoes has also increased from Sh1,200 to Sh1,300 while that of carrots is selling at Sh1,500 up from Sh1,400. The cost of fruits and vegetables have not been spared either with a bag of Sukuma wiki (Kales) going at Sh800 up from Sh700 while that of that of cabbages increased from Sh600 to Sh700.

Meanwhile, farmers in the region have accused the Government of being insensitive to their needs.

They say the government is not committed to addressing possible food insecurity in the country by subsidising on farm inputs.

The farmers, led by Mr Joel Kigen and Ezekiel Kosgei, said the planting season was on and yet fertilisers were still being sold exorbitantly. Most farmers, they noted, had drastically reduced their acreage under maize and beans because productivity costs are out of their reach.

“I used to plant nine acres of maize but now I will only have four acres of the crop, just to take care of my family throughout the year,” said Mr Kigen.

The farmers said the Government should offer subsidies to lure farmers from the area to practice extensive agriculture. “It doesn’t help when a 50kg bag of fertiliser goes for Sh3,900 up from Sh1,600 last year and a litre of diesel at Sh90 up from Sh75 last year,” Mr Kosgei said.

He observed that some farmers had not cultivated their land hoping that production costs would come down before the end of the planting season.

“So long as production costs are higher than the returns at the end of the day, we have no reason engaging in commercial agriculture. We better leave the land to graze our dairy cattle,” said Mr Kosgei.



April 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rich nations seek action on rising food prices

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TOKYO: Development ministers from wealthy nations called Sunday for action to confront soaring food prices, which they said hurt developing nations as well as efforts by donors to help them.

Ministers from the Group of 8 industrialized nations said that development assistance needed to be strengthened, and partnership increased between traditional donors and new donors, like emerging Asian countries.

But rising food prices, which were not on the official agenda for the meeting, and partly for that reason were not included in the summary statement, became a hot topic on the final day of the two-day meeting in Tokyo.

“Spikes in food prices cause serious problems for development as a whole, especially for Africa, and we shared the view that this is something the international community needs to tackle,” Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura of Japan, chairman of the meeting, said during a news conference.

“We reached a common determination that there is the need to take necessary steps,” he added, without specifying details.

This month, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, called for a new coordinated global response to spiraling food prices, which are exacerbating food shortages around the globe.

Severe weather in producing countries and a spike in demand from fast-developing countries have pushed up prices of staple foods by 80 percent since 2005. Last month, rice prices hit a 19-year high; wheat prices rose to a 28-year high and almost twice the average price of the past 25 years, Zoellick added.

Alain Joyandet, the French secretary of state for cooperation and French-speaking countries, said that France was concerned about the rising cost of food, which he said could affect the aid programs of donors.

Some Asian countries that attended “outreach meetings” on the sidelines of the conference with the ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia said problems of rising food prices should be taken up at a G-8 summit meeting in July in Japan, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said. But the official said there had not been enough time at the weekend to discuss any concrete steps to tackle food prices.

The weekend meeting, to set the groundwork for development issues at the G-8 summit meeting, took place halfway into the calendar for the UN Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight globally agreed targets to be reached by 2015.

The goals, set in 2000, range from halving the number of people living on less than $1 a day, to providing universal primary education and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Experts say most countries could fail to meet the UN goals.

Europe to seek bank dataEurope will press the G-7 group of industrialized economies this week to demand more disclosure from banks on their securitization activities and the exotic securities behind the global credit crunch, Reuters reported from Brdo, Slovenia on Saturday.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the 15 countries that have adopted the euro also agreed during two days of talks to express concern over excessive exchange-rate volatility during the meeting in Washington on Friday by envoys from the United States, Japan, Canada, Britain , Germany, France and Italy.

The European Union also issued a statement expressing its approval of a recent agreement that gives countries like China and India more voting rights within the International Monetary Fund.

“To increase transparency and restore confidence, ministers and governors call on financial institutions to make full and immediate disclosure of on- and off-balance-sheet risk exposures and losses,” the statement said.

It noted varying practices on disclosure and said it was time to consider extra guidelines by mid-2008.

During meetings in Slovenia, which eventually included all 27 countries of the European Union, the basic message was that Europe was doing its part to address market turmoil and had a sounder financial supervisory system than the United States.

In another document, the Europeans made it clear that bailouts were the last of last resorts. “The use of public money to resolve a crisis can never be taken for granted and will only be considered to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy and when overall social benefits are assessed to exceed the cost of recapitalization at public expense,” said the document, which was described as a memorandum of understanding on financial security principles.

Backing the IMF voting overhaul, the EU said that the voting rights changes “will achieve a significant shift in the representation of dynamic economies, many of which are emerging market countries, and give poorer countries a greater say in running the multilateral institution.”

The plan would increase the voting shares of China, India and Brazil. At the same time, it would reduce that of countries like Russia and Argentina, and slightly lower those of the Germany, Britain, France and others.


April 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment