Kenya has only half a day’s supply left of its most important staple grain

Running low.
Running low.
Image: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Kenya has less than a day’s supply of corn, its most important food staple. The country now has 4,500 tonnes (4,960 tons) in its reserves, officials with the National Cereals and Produce Board told Bloomberg today. Kenya consumes about 260,000 tonnes of corn a month.

East Africa’s largest economy is in the middle of a drought that has left 2.6 million people in need of food aid, driven up food prices, and set off violence among desperate pastoralist communities. Many families are getting by on just one meal a day, according to UNDP. According to the World Bank, the drought could shave off 0.6% of the country’s economic output.

Corn, or maize, is especially important. The National Cereals and Produce Board describes it as a measure of measure of food security. It’s used not just for food, including the Kenyan staple ugali, but also animal feed and oil. To deal with the rising price of maize flour, up 31% compared to last year, Kenya’s ministry of agriculture announced today that it will be subsidizing maize importers to lower prices.

Agronomists are blaming the food crisis on the country’s over reliance on rain-fed agriculture, while citizens are blaming government mismanagement. Meanwhile, opposition candidates are using the high food costs to rally people under an “ugali revolution” to unseat the government in general elections in August.