- According to the FAO’s latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulleting (FPMA), soaring cost of basic staples is an extra challenge for pastoralists as livestock prices fall.
Nairobi. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Tuesday that severe drought is pushing up food prices sharply in East Africa.
According to the FAO’s latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulleting (FPMA), soaring cost of basic staples is an extra challenge for pastoralists as livestock prices fall.
“Drought throughout East Africa has sharply curbed harvests and pushed the prices of cereals and other staple foods to unusually high levels, posing a heavy burden to households and special risks for pastoralists in the region,” the FAO said. The UN agency said insufficient rainfall in most areas of the sub-region has put enormous strain on livestock and their keepers.
It said poor livestock body conditions due to pasture and water shortages and forcible culls mean animals command lower prices, leaving pastoralists with even less income to purchase basic foodstuffs.
Local prices of maize, sorghum and other cereals are near or at record levels in swathes of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the Tanzania, according to the report. Poor rainfall in recent months has dented farm output in the sub-region, where food stocks were already depleted by the strong El Nino phenomenon that ended only last year.
According to the FAO, Somalia’s maize and sorghum harvests are estimated to be 75 percent down from their usual level, and some 6.2 million people, more than half of the country’s total population, now face acute food insecurity with the majority of those most affected living in rural areas.
“In Kenya, where eastern and coastal lowlands as well as some western areas of the Rift Valley all suffered below-average rainfall, maize prices are up by around 30 percent, with the increase somewhat contained somewhat thanks to sustained imports from Uganda,” the FAO said. (NMG)