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Tougher meal times await Kenyans, experts warn

The long rains that were expected to begin last month, through June, have largely failed, exacerbating an already precarious situation

NAIROBI: It will cost you even more to put food on your table, economists have warned.

Experts say the sustained drought conditions will further raise the cost of food and basic commodities, which is already at record levels.

All food items are in short supply following failed rains from last year with prices of dania (coriander), a common herb used to prepare stews almost doubling to Sh110 for 100 grams.

Some relief is expected on the prices of unga – used to prepare the country’s staple food, ugali, – after policy measures were adopted for importation of duty-free maize following the reading of the budget last week.

Imported cheap maize could take weeks to arrive, meaning the current prices of unga, which have crossed the Sh150-mark for a 2kg packet could remain elevated for longer.

But away from the record cost of maize, rice and potatoes have also risen sharply since March last year, climbing by 13 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.

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A kilo of Irish potatoes, which are used to prepare French fries (chips) is retailing just below Sh100 compared to Sh73 last March, according to official statistics.

“Food prices are expected to remain elevated in March and April due to the dry weather conditions, but ease with the long rains,” Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) top decision-making organ, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) said at its last meeting.

The MPC, which is chaired by CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge, singled out rising food prices as the single driver of inflation.

The long rains that were expected to begin last month, through June, have largely failed, exacerbating an already precarious situation.

Acting Director of the Kenya Meteorological Department Peter Ambenje has already cautioned that the long rains could fall below normal, citing neutral temperature conditions between the East African region and the Indian Ocean.

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