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GIEWS Country Brief: Kenya 12-May-2020

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  • Abundant rains in March and April benefited establishment and development of 2020 “long-rains” crops

  • Severe desert locust outbreak affecting country, with crop losses expected mainly in southeastern marginal agriculture areas

  • Reduced cereal output obtained in 2019 due to unfavourable weather conditions

  • Above-average rangeland conditions benefiting livestock, despite localized pasture losses due to locusts

  • Prices of maize declined in March, but remained at high levels due to tight supplies

  • Number of severely food insecure people currently estimated at 980 000, markedly lower than in 2019, following two consecutive favourable rainy seasons benefiting livestock productivity

Abundant rains benefited establishment and development of 2020 “long-rains” crops

In the major uni-modal rainfall growing areas of Central, Rift Valley and Western provinces, planting of the 2020 “long-rains” crops, for harvest from October, is almost complete. Seasonal rains had a timely onset in mid-February and have been characterized so far by well above-average amounts. In high potential cropping areas of the southwestern “maize basket” (Bungoma, Lugari, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi North, Nandi South, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties), cumulative rainfall between February and late April were between 70 percent and more than 100 percent above the long-term average. In bi-modal rainfall southeastern and coastal areas, where crops will be harvested from July, after a timely onset in early March, rains in March and April were also well above the average. The abundant precipitation received across all growing areas benefited crop planting and germination, and overall vegetation conditions are currently good (see ASI map for cropland).

The heavy rains triggered floods and landslides in April, which resulted in the loss of lives, population displacements and localized damage to crops. The worst affected areas include southwestern West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Siaya and Bomet counties, central Kirinyaga and Nairobi counties, and eastern Tana River, Garissa and Kilifi counties.

According to the latest Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) weather forecast, the remainder of the March-May rainy season is likely to be characterized by above-average precipitations in western areas and average to above-average rains over eastern areas, with a favourable impact on yields.

Since December 2019, the country is affected by a severe desert locust outbreak, the worst in 70 years. Locust swarms are currently present in 28 counties, mainly in central and northern agro-pastoral and pastoral areas, while infestation levels in southwestern key cropping areas are low. Large-scale control operations carried out by the Government with the support of FAO are mitigating the impact of locusts on crops. As a result, only localized production shortfalls are expected, mainly in southeastern marginal cropping areas of Embu (Mbeere),
Tharaka Nithi, Meru North and Kitui counties.