'Some farmers are not able to transport their produce to the market and this could lead to an increase in transport costs that may slightly affect food prices'
Food prices are likely to increase owing to the heavy rains across the country, the government has warned.
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur on Tuesday said the rains have caused flooding that has affected transportation and rendered roads impassable.
The National Disaster Operation Centre says floods have killed at least 130 people countrywide and destroyed property including roads.
“Some farmers are not able to transport their produce to the market and this could lead to an increase in transport costs that may slightly affect food prices,” Tuimur said.
Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said the rains were worrying and even though it will be a blessing given that areas which depend on this season will produce more.
“This will be good for the country's short rains harvest. We are likely to have an increase of two million bags of maize harvest this season,” Boga said.
He said the country is expecting short rains harvest of eight million bags which is more than past projections pegged at about six million bags of maize.
Areas that depend on the short rains include Central, Eastern and parts of the Coast.
Boga said the rains could have an effect on accessibility of food and will increase post-harvest losses of crops especially those that are perishable.
“When people are not able to move their produce, especially perishable goods, availing the produce to consumers will be a problem and the transport logistics can have an impact on prices,” Boga said.
Timothy Njagi, a researcher from Tegemeo Institute, said while the rain is good, it is also likely to increase post-harvest losses, especially for maize due to the challenge of drying.
“Flooding may damage crops, but if we have another one or two weeks of sunshine then it rains again, then the crop will be good. But it will be a challenge for farmers that cannot access drying services and have to rely on sun drying,” Njagi said.
He said places like the Seven Folks Dam which is reported to be full could spell doom for those living downstream.
“There is the danger of flooding hence huge losses for farmers along Tana River. There is need for flood control interventions especially in road infrastructure to support farmers,” Njagi said.
The Meteorological department on Monday said heavy rains will persist until Christmas.
Earlier, the weatherman had predicted that the rains would end in the second week of December, a position it has since revised.
“The December rains will exceed the highest amounts experienced in this month in recent years. This coupled with the already saturated grounds is likely to continue causing floods and landslides in lowlands and poorly drained areas,” Met deputy director David Gikungu said.
edited by p. obuya