Governments urged to fix measures on tackling global food crisis

Kenya is among countries whose population has been affected.

In Summary

•In Kenya, inflation rose to a five-year high of 8.5% in August, driven mainly by increases in the price of food, transport and energy costs.

•The country is currently experiencing a severe drought and is listed among 19 hunger hotspot countries, where the food crisis has worsened.

Hunger-stricken residents of Kang'irisai in Turkana await relief food.
DROUGHT EFFECTS: Hunger-stricken residents of Kang'irisai in Turkana await relief food.
Image: FILE

Governments in all countries need to urgently re-examine their agricultural trade and market interventions, amid a continued global food security and nutrition crisis.

This includes measures such as subsidies and export restrictions, to identify and minimise distortions.

Shorter interventions cause less harm than indefinite ones, the Food and Agricultural Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Food Programme, and World Trade Organization have said.

The war in Ukraine continues to exacerbate the global food security and nutrition crisis, with high and volatile energy, food and fertiliser prices, restrictive trade policies, and supply chain disruptions.

Kenya is among countries that have been impacted by the war.

More than 80 per cent of Kenya's wheat imports have been traditionally come from Russia and Ukraine, with other sources being Argentina and the US.

Despite the reprieve in global food prices and the resumption of grain exports from the Black Sea, food remains beyond the reach of many due to high prices and weather shocks, the global bodies noted in a joint statement.

In Kenya, inflation rose to a five-year high of 8.5 per cent in August, driven mainly by increases in the price of food, transport and energy costs, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows. 

The country is currently experiencing a severe drought with Kenya listed among 19 hunger hotspot countries where the food crisis has worsened, according to a UN report.

Up to 26 million people are expected to face a crisis or worse levels of food insecurity in Somalia, Southern and Eastern Ethiopia, and Northern and Eastern Kenya.

According to the National Drought Management Authority, at least 4.1 million people from 15 counties are in dire need of food due to famine.

This number is projected to increase to 4.35 million by October.

Globally, the number of people facing acute food insecurity is expected to continue to rise.

Fertiliser markets remain volatile, especially in Europe, where tight natural gas supplies and high prices have caused many producers of urea and ammonia to stop operations.

This may reduce fertiliser application rates for the next crop season, prolonging and deepening the impact of the crisis.

The World Bank is implementing its $30 billion (Sh 3.62 trillion) program to respond to the food security crisis and frontloading resources from the IDA20 Crisis Response Window.

The IMF is proposing a new food shock window within the IMF emergency lending instruments.

The FAO on the other hand has proposed a series of policy and launched detail soil nutrition maps at country level to increase efficiencies in the use of fertilisers.

“Maintaining momentum on these fronts and building resilience for the future will require a continued comprehensive and coordinated effort to support efficient production and trade, improve transparency, accelerate innovation and joint planning and invest in food systems transformation,” the group said in a joint statement.

They have called for support on efficient production and trade.

Promoting the production of nutritious foods and repurposing the $639 billion support per year provided to agriculture by governments can transform food systems and improve food security,” the institutions’ heads said.

Preserving open trade in food, agriculture, and energy can also reduce price distortions that dilute incentives for efficient production.

Countries have been urged to follow through on commitments made at the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference  to restrain export restrictions on food and fertilisers, and put in place trade facilitation measures.

There is also need to improve transparency mainly through food market monitoring, with government urged to provide necessary data and resources to support Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS).

It enhances transparency in food markets through monitoring the prices and availability of major food crops and promoting policy responses.

Other measures includes  accelerating innovation and joint planning, and investing in food systems transformation.

“We remain committed to working together to address immediate food security and nutrition needs, tackle structural market issues that may exacerbate adverse impacts, and build countries’ resilience to prevent and mitigate the impacts of future crises,” the heads said in a joint statement.

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