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Drought raising Kenya’s dependency on food imports

The ongoing drought is set to raise Kenya’s dependency on imported foods, cutting back gains the country had attained in the last five years, a research report said Monday in Nairobi.

A local resident is seen with barrels of water in Baringo, northwest Kenya, March 12, 2015. Residents of Baringo County are experiencing extreme cases of hunger as a result of the long periods of drought in Kenya. According to Kenya's Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, a total of 1.6 million people in arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya are in danger of dying as a result of hunger. (Xinhua/Simbi Kusimba)A local resident is seen with barrels of water in Baringo, northwest Kenya, March 12, 2015. Residents of Baringo County are experiencing extreme cases of hunger as a result of the long periods of drought in Kenya. According to Kenya’s Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, a total of 1.6 million people in arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya are in danger of dying as a result of hunger. (Xinhua/Simbi Kusimba) With the ongoing drought, the import dependency ratio on food, vegetable and animal products may rise to the levels they were some five years ago at 29.1 percent, 32.6 percent and 1.1 percent respectively, Cytonn, a Nairobi based investment firm, said Monday in a report on the impact of the drought on the economy.

Kenya’s dependency on imported food has improved over the last five years, with the import dependency ratio on food, vegetable and animmal products having declined by 0.8 percentage, 0.9 percentage and 0.3 percentage respectively.

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“The drought would also hit the country’s ability to cater for its food needs without external assistance, which has also improved over the last five years, with the self-sufficiency ratio on food products, vegetable products and animal products having risen to 75.2 percent, 72.1 percent and 100 percent,” said Cytonn.

However, while the drought would hit harder the agricultural sector, which contributes about 23 percent to the Kenyan economy. As a result of crop failure and in turn reduced food security, its impact would be felt far and wide.

“Poor rainfall would hamper hydro-electric power generation resulting in power rationing and also water rationing due to reduced supply in the process affecting households and industries heavily dependent on the resources, putting a strain on the economy,” said Cytonn.

Kenya has two major rainfall seasons namely the long rains that come in between March and May, and the short rains witnessed between October and December.

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The food security situation is expected to deteriorate in most parts of the East African nation as the Kenya Meteorological Department earlier this month revealed the country is expected to witness depressed rainfall in this year’s long rains season.

This would push Kenya further into food import dependency raising inflation. Food is the main component of the Consumer Price Index, usually carrying a weighting of 36 percent.

Prices have been on a gradual increase over the past three months, clocking month on month changes of 1.2 percent, 1.3 percent and 1.7 percent in November, December and January 2017, respectively.

Despite the poor outlook, Cytonn believes that Kenya’s economic growth will be stronger in 2017, recording a gross domestic product growth of between 5.4 percent and 5.7 percent, a slowdown from the 6 percent expected for 2016. Enditem

Source: Bedah Mengo, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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