Severe drought in the Horn of Africa has adversely impacted harvests of corn, wheat, rice and other staple crops in Kenya this marketing year, and is leading to great hardship for the people of the region. However, a strong recovery has been forecast for the next 12 months by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
Among the drivers for the expectation of increased production of these commodities in marketing year (MY; starting in July) 2017-18, reports FAS, are strong demand for human food and animal feed. Some of this demand will be met by imports.
National and international efforts to boost Kenyan corn production have been hampered by the drought and other issues in recent times. However, the improved prospects for MY2017-18 are based on forecasts of more favorable weather patterns ahead. Recovery programs for the sector have been initiated by the Nairobi government and local administrations.
FAS cites last year’s investment in a joint venture with Kenyan-based Bidco Africa by Land O’Lakes of the U.S. as an example of new initiatives that will improve the quality of animal feeds for local livestock and poultry farmers, as well as increasing demand for corn and wheat.
FAS had forecast an increase in Kenyan corn production from 2.8 million metric tons (mmt) in 2015-16 to 2.85 mmt in the current year. Due to the drought, the figure has been revised to 2.5 mmt for 2016-17, while next year’s estimate is 2.8 mmt. Imports look likely to be 1.3 mmt this year.
Kenyan wheat and rice harvests have also been hit by the drought and other adverse factors. The country’s deficits of wheat and rice have been widening in recent years due to changing dietary choices by the local population.