East African countries grapples with high food prices due to flooding, pests and disease

By Nita Karume:

East African are currently struggling with high food prices as a result of flooding, pests and disease. The situation, however, is expected to worsen in the next two months the region approaches a lean harvest.

Some of the areas that will be affected adversely include households in Rwanda, Karamoja of Uganda, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan owing to their dependency on markets for food. These places, according to a monthly update by the Food Security Working Group on the Greater Horn will be facing rising prices due to a reduction of goods on the market.

The report goes on to warn that above average staple food prices will continue to eat into the purchasing power of poor market-dependent households. Last week, maize was trading at $402.14 per tonne in Kisumu, Kenya, $319 in Ruhuha, Rwanda and $ 271.02 in Kabale town, Uganda. This is a huge slump from six months ago when the same amount traded at $540.28 in Ruhuha, $279.38 in Uganda and $443.04 in Nairobi.

What’s more devastating is that in Burundi, only 60% of households have food. Unfortunately, the food security situation is being aggravated by heavy rains and floods which have impacted crop production in most parts of the region.

The rains have further impeded access to markets and services as road transport is now difficult, making it hard for farmers to deliver supplies. Last week, the food security meeting held at the Igad Climate Prediction and Applications Centre in Nairobi also asked farmers in Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia to be on the lookout for the Fall Armyworm.

The pest is found in all 121 districts of Uganda. Among the 47 counties of Kenya, it has destroyed between 11,000 and 15,000 hectares of maize. It is also in17 provinces of Burundi and the whole of Ethiopia where it has damaged 1.7 million hectares of maize. Moreover, 30 districts in Rwanda were not spared as it is responsible for the destruction of over 15,300 hectares.