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Drought threatens lives in arid parts of Kenya

Failure of the short October-December rains is threatening thousands of people and livestock in the arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya. Reports from the ministry of agriculture paint a grim picture of the food situation, with unbalanced distribution of harvest yields throughout the country’s eight provinces. “The Rift Valley and Western provinces got bumper harvests but the rest have nothing, posing a serious problem for the country’s food security,” Ann Onyango, an expert on crop reserves in the ministry, told IRIN. The price of maize, a staple food, is rising steadily yet most of the affected communities lack purchasing power. Farmers are exporting their grains to neighbouring Tanzania, also faced with serious shortages, for better prices. In Tanzania maize fetches about US $20 for a 90 kg bag, compared to about US $12 offered by Kenya’s National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). Experts blame the shortfall on unpredictable weather, poor distribution of food surplus and marketing, and over-reliance on maize.
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