Households in East Africa are staring at high food prices in the next two months as the region approaches a lean harvest due to flooding, pests and disease.
According to a monthly update by the Food Security Working Group on the Greater Horn, households in Rwanda, Karamoja of Uganda, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan, which depend on markets for food, will be facing rising prices due to a reduction of goods on the market.
“Above average staple food prices will continue eroding the purchasing power of poor market-dependent households in Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan, which are heading into a lean season,” said the FSNWG report.
Last week, maize was trading at $402.14 per tonne in Kisumu, Kenya, $319 in Ruhuha, Rwanda and $ 271.02 in Kabale town, Uganda.
Six months ago, a tonne of maize traded at $540.28 in Ruhuha, $279.38 in Uganda and $443.04 in Nairobi. In Burundi, only 60 per cent of households have food.
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.
The food security meeting held at the Igad Climate Prediction and Applications Centre in Nairobi last week, also asked farmers in Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia to be on the lookout for the Fall Armyworm. The worm, which is most destructive to young crops, has occasioned massive losses to grain farmers.
The pest is found in all 121 districts of Uganda, all the 47 counties of Kenya all 17 provinces of Burundi, the whole of Ethiopia and all the 30 districts of Rwanda.
In Kenya, it has destroyed between 11,000 and 15,000 hectares of maize, and in Rwanda, more than 15,300 hectares. In Ethiopia, 1.7 million hectares of maize have been destroyed.
Farmers have also been urged to prepare for an upsurge of livestock diseases due to the wet conditions.