- Munya says it is too early to determine the actual long-term impact on agriculture supply chains and the economy.
- Agriculture CS says flower farms have lost over 70 per cent of their income over the last month due to the lockdown in most countries in Europe.
Kenyans have been warned against panic buying during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Agriculture CS Peter Munya said this could create an unwarranted shock in the market, pushing the cost of food up.
“Currently, food supply is sufficient and I urge Kenyans to resist panic buying. We will be closely monitoring the cost of food and taking stern measures against traders who create artificial price inflation on food and agriculture inputs,” he said.
Munya spoke on Tuesday during a media briefing on the coronavirus pandemic and food security at Kilimo House, Nairobi.
He said it was too early to determine the actual long-term impact on agriculture supply chains and the economy.
“It is evident that the economic impact of the pandemic is taking a toll on the national economy and this impact is particularly being felt in the agricultural sector and particularly in the fresh produce industry," Munya said.
"This impact has been occasioned by the lockdown in most countries and the collapse of prices at the auction.”
The current restrictions on movement, the CS said, have caused a strain on farmers’ ability to access markets, buy inputs and sell products.
He said fresh produce is accumulating at farms, particularly those meant for the export market.
“Due to the lockdown in most countries in Europe, flower farms have lost more than 70 per cent of their income over the last month. Vegetable and fruit markets remain with minimal activities as exporters are shipping only 25-30 per cent of their normal capacity and many contracted outgrower farmers have reported losses due to non-collection of their produce from their farms,” Munya said.
He urged farmers to continue production to ensure food security and other value chain actors to play their part.
Munya said the supply of staple commodities must function well, and farm, livestock and fish production inputs and produce need to be transported to where they are needed most.
“In order to avoid food shortages, it is imperative that we keep the food supply chains going. We are working closely with stakeholders to urgently strike a balance between keeping production going and protecting all actors along the agricultural value chain,” he said.
The CS assured Kenyans that the government is putting in place the necessary mechanisms to avert potential food shortages.
He further said they are working together with the county governments to ensure that the agricultural sector continues its operations and that food is available, accessible, affordable and safe for all Kenyan households.
Munya said the government has constituted a Covid-19 County Coordination and Food Security Committee comprised of the key sector ministries and Council of Governors under his chairmanship.
“Within two days we shall be releasing guidelines to counties, food processors, transporters, farmers, input suppliers, veterinary practitioners and other value chain actors including the mama mbogas operating across the country on how to conduct their business while ensuring their own safety and that of their customers,” he added.
The CS appealed to farmers to take advantage of the ongoing rains and continue with their farming activities, adding that the government will help farmers access affordable inputs and extension support.
“The government has made available fertilisers at affordable prices through Kenya National Trading Council and the National Cereals and Produce Board stores across the country," Munya said.
"We will be working round the clock to minimise disruptions to the food chain and we have put in place a Covid-19 Food Security War Room to swiftly address any emerging issues.”
Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya