From the article: “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic knocked on its door, the country faced a devastating desert locust invasion. This added to constraints posed by excessive rainfall experienced from October 2019. The worst food insecurity that Kenya has faced in recent years was in 2017 and 2008. The food production deficit and food prices were their highest ever in these years. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates that about 12 million people are food poor. These are people whose income doesn’t enable them to consume enough calories for a healthy lifestyle. Two-thirds of the food poor individuals are found in rural areas. Kenya relies heavily on maize, wheat, rice and Irish potatoes for food. It is estimated that the country imports about 90% of the total rice demand and about 75% of the total wheat demand. The rest is produced locally. For example, Kenya produces most of the total maize demand itself, importing only about 10%. A key challenge for the country is to raise productivity in the agriculture sector. This would not only ensure food availability, but potentially lift households out of poverty. To attain this, the country must reduce reliance on rainfed agriculture systems, use modern varieties and technologies by enhancing investments in extension systems, build resilience of farmers against the effects of climate change and variability, and improve agricultural market systems and infrastructure. The coronavirus outbreak adds to the challenge because markets have been closed and delivery of food has been disrupted.”
Article reference: Njeru, T.N., Were, M.A. 2020. Why COVID-19 is another blow for Kenya’s food security. The Conversation.