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

Story by BARNABAS BII and DENNIS ODUNGA
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.

source.

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April 7, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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