Commodities

Grain shortage hits flour vendors in six arid counties

maize

A maize farm in Mandera. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Availability of maize flour due to recent locust invasion has dropped by 83 per cent in northern counties. 
  • Supply of beans has also dropped by 80 per cent in the market.
  • Other commodities whose supply declined are wheat flour (71 per cent), rice (68 per cent) and sugar (67 per cent).

Vendors in Turkana, Mandera, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit and Wajir counties have reported an 83 per cent drop in the availability of maize flour due to recent locust invasion, which destroyed large swathes of farmland.

The latest market monitoring survey by the Kenya Cash Consortium (KCC) in partnership with aid organisations Oxfam and Concern Worldwide shows supply of beans has also dropped by 80 per cent in the market.

Other commodities whose supply declined are wheat flour (71 per cent), rice (68 per cent) and sugar (67 per cent).

“Findings suggest that the desert locust invasion had negative effects on the ability of vendors in ASAL (arid and semi-arid land) counties to conduct their businesses, effects that were potentially compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic,” reads part of the survey.

The data was collected between August 10-26 and involved 287 vendors.

Most common restocking problems the sellers reported are an increase in prices (73 per cent), restriction of movement (69 per cent), unusable roads (63 per cent) and a lack of transport (56 per cent).

Others are theft and damage of commodities (15 per cent), shortage (13 per cent), cannot afford to restock (12 per cent) and increased demand (12 per cent).

“Some of the coping strategies used by vendors during the locust period including changing business (23 per cent), reducing products (30 per cent), changing suppliers (27 per cent), increasing prices (63 per cent) and not affected (46 per cent).

In December 2019, the desert locust invaded Kenya causing serious economic and social impact on the pastoralists in northern Kenya. Other countries that were affected are Somalia and Ethiopia.

In Kenya, more than 20 counties — including Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, Isiolo, Garissa, Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia, Meru, Kitui, Embu, Machakos, Murang’a, Makueni and Kajiado —have been infested by the insects.

The invasion affected pasture in several counties like Samburu, Isiolo and Marsabit raising fears of fodder shortage.