Reports that food price rallies drove up the cost of living in the month of October should be a wake-up call for policymakers to immediately burn the midnight oil in finding a solution.
According to data compiled by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, maize prices topped the list of foods that increased.
As a result, the price rally halted two consecutive months of falling inflation.
The inflation rate rose to 4.95 percent for the month of October. This was a significant jump from the 18-month low of 3.83 percent that was recorded in the month of September.
During the same period , alcoholic drinks, tobacco and narcotics index rose by 1.97 percent due to a jump in prices of cigarettes a a new excise duty was rolled out.
Data shows that the price of a kilogramme of loose maize grain increased by 5,82 percent last month to average Sh50.82.
The increase was almost double at 47.17 percent when compared with the Sh34.53 that the same quantity of grain was going for during a similar period last year.
And a kilogramme of sifted maize flour increased by 4.58 per cent on average . At an average of Sh127.31 for a two kilogramme packet of maize flour, the price was 50 percent higher than its level during the same period last year.
The prices of tomatoes also recorded a 4.44 percent increase to Sh90.28 per kilogramme while the prices of spinach, kales and cabbages increased by 4.6 percent, 1.38 and 5.4 percent respectively.
While the October inflation rate figure is still within the government’s target range of between 2,5 percent and 7.5 percent, it cannot afford to rest on its laurels.
Given that food prices are a major determinant in the basket of goods and services that are used to measure the inflation rate, the food price rally should spur policymakers to come up with solutions that will turn around the trend.
The erratic weather patterns have been blamed for suppressing growth in the agriculture sector while a tough economic environment has seen many companies lay off workers and freeze hiring.
The solution lies in scaling up the various sectors in order to spur economic growth.