NATIONALNEWS

Famine stalking despite ‘plenty’ in food reserves

The government yesterday assured Kenyans of enough food in its stores despite famine-scare across 23 counties.

To activate action, it set up an inter-ministerial joint team to determine and identify any gaps in interventions to enable comprehensive response to the working food crisis in the country.

An estimated 1.3 million people are under threat of famine, but according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), the situation has not reached alarming levels.

In the past two weeks, both the local and international media have shown pictures of carcasses and emaciated Kenyans.

But yesterday, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett flanked by members of the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) Board, down-played fears that the situation is getting worse.

Addressing journalists at Kilimo House, Bett said 34 million bags expected to be harvested from the long rains and another 7 million from the short rains in the next two months will address consumption needs.  In one month, Kenyans consume up to 3.2 million bags bringing the total maize consumption to 40 million bags annually.

“I wish to assure Kenyans that the overall food security situation in the country is stable. This will be augmented by the ongoing harvesting of long rain crops in the major production regions,” said Bett.

A study by Tegemeo Institute of Research and Policy Development released last week raised fears the country could plunge into a major food security crisis.

In the survey, a research associate at the Egerton University based institute, Francis Karin said Kenya  would need up to 10 million bags between May and July 2017, to cushion the country from an expected maize shortage amid negative impacts of climate change.

food insecurity

The meteorological department has warned the country may experience La Nina with the prolonged drought.

Separately, Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the ministries of Devolution, Special Programmes, Interior and National Treasury will scale up investment to avoid recurrence of food insecurity and loss of livelihood as a result of drought.

He said the government would reach-out to county governments to take up similar initiatives.

The National Treasury released Sh250 million to Special Programmes for emergency relief food in August this year.

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