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Staple food prices are gradually declining but remain higher than the five-year average

  • Key Message Update
  • Kenya
  • March 2024
Staple food prices are gradually declining but remain higher than the five-year average

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As of late March, an effective start to the March to May long rains is yet to be recorded across most of the country, except in the Lake Victoria region of western Kenya, where the long rains started in February and in localized parts of Makueni and Kitui that received significantly above average rainfall from storm events. However, regional and international ensemble forecasts for April and May indicate a high probability of above-average cumulative rainfall in western, northern, and eastern Kenya, with localized areas of average rainfall in the coastal region.
    • Across the marginal agricultural areas, the average to above average short rains harvest has improved household food availability and is gradually decreasing household dependency on markets to seasonally low levels. Households are also earning income from selling food crops and from agriculturally waged labor opportunities like land clearing ahead of the long rains agricultural season. Better access to income, seeds, and other inputs will likely support above-average areas that need planting for the long rains season. However, household access to their non-food needs remains constrained due to the high cost of living, which is limiting household purchasing power along with the beginning of the payment of past debts poor households accumulated through the historic drought, maintaining area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
    • Staple food prices are gradually declining, driven by the average to above average short rains harvest, in addition to the unimodal production in the North Rift and western Kenya, as well as cross-border imports from Uganda and Tanzania. However, staple food prices remain higher than the five-year average due to high local demand and transportation and marketing costs. According to NDMA February sentinel site bulletins, maize prices were 6 to 50 percent higher than the five-year average in most areas and similar to the five-year average in Taita Taveta, Lamu, Narok, and Meru (Meru North). However, maize prices are 7 to 52 percent lower than last year in most monitored markets, with prices similar to last year in Lamu. Similarly, bean prices in monitored markets were 8 to 60 percent higher than the five-year average in most areas, except in Nyeri, where bean prices are 9 percent lower than the five-year average following a good harvest. 
    • The livestock sale vales remain exceptionally high, driven by the good body conditions and a constricted market supply as households continue to hold on to their stocks to improve their herd sizes following significant losses through sales and deaths during the protracted drought and floods that followed during the recent short rains. According to NDMA February bulletins, the price of a mature goat was around 40 to 135 percent higher than the five-year average in most pastoral markets, with prices in Turkana, Wajir, Isiolo, Mandera, and Marsabit over 90 percent above the five-year average due to the contrasted market supply. The high livestock prices are continuing to improve household purchasing power, with the sale of a goat likely to provide enough income to purchase around 45 to 100 kg of maize grain. 
    • In the pastoral areas, return trekking distances to water sources for humans and livestock are beginning to increase ahead of the long rains from March to May as water sources deplete and dry up. Livestock are traveling 10.5 to 20.5 km, with the increasing distances driven by seasonal declines in available pasture and fodder. However, livestock body conditions range mostly between fair and very good, with milk production expected to slowly improve with expected calving and kidding during the rainy season. In February, pastoral households produced 0.3 to 2.6 liters of milk per household per day compared to 0.75 to 3.5 liters per household per day normally. Overall, area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are emerging across pastoral areas as household access to staple foods, milk, and income improves, supported by above-average goat-to-maize terms-of-trade and the gradual recovery of herd sizes and available milk production.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Kenya Key Message Update March 2024: Staple food prices are gradually declining but remain higher than the five-year average, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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