Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett yesterday said that most of the people in arid and semi-arid counties in northern Kenyan are facing starvation. In his press conference yesterday he said about 3.5 million Kenyan are facing hunger owing to long-drawn-out famine and irregular rains.
The figure is an increase from the 2.6 million estimated by the government at the commencement of the year.
Mr. Bett said the nation anticipates an increase in the amount of maize that will be yielded by the end of this crop year, a situation he argues will alleviate the food shortage presently facing the nation.
In a report on the present national food situation that was released on Thursday, Mr. Bett said the ministry has estimated a harvest of about 37.9 million bags of maize by the end of 2017, up from 36.9 million bags harvested in the same period in 2016.
The number is, nonetheless, a decline of about 4.4 per cent of the 40 million bags the ministry had projected at the start of the year.
“Of the counties facing starvation, Wajir, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Garissa, Mandera and Baringo, as well as parts of Kitui and Kajiado, have been listed as the worst hit,” said the CS. He also blamed the armyworm, which destroyed maize in the country’s food basket regions of Rift Valley for the drop in production.
To stop a possible scarcity, Mr. Bett said the ministry plans to buy all the maize presented by farmers from the 2017 crop.
The purchase will start on Monday, with farmers offered Sh3, 200 per 90-kilogramme bag.
The government has also doubled the food ration being given to starving Kenyans in different regions as it tries to lessen the effects of the drought. He said the increased allocation will run until mid-next year. Weather reports received by the Devolution ministry from the Metrological Department show that regular rains will resume in early March.