Food prices skyrocket in E Africa as Corona affects supply, marketing

Friday, May 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Maize flour. Photo/Courtesy

DISRUPTION:  Prices of staple foods went up in East African countries in April due to trade and marketing disruptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said.

FAO, in a monthly report on food price trend-Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Bulletin said upward pressure on staple food prices was as a result of difficult macro-economic conditions and panic buying.

The UN food agency warned that in some countries globally, food prices are at an abnormal high levels which could negatively impact access to food, for instance, in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sudan, South Sudan, Brazil, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Haiti and Thailand. 

“In East Africa mainly Sudan and South Sudan, the upward pressure on prices of staple foods from the difficult macro-economic conditions and tight domestic availabilities was further exacerbated by trade and marketing disruptions related to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report said.

In Kenya, the report shows prices of maize began to increase seasonally in April after declining in March with the recent secondary harvest.

In Kenya’s main food sources –Tanzania and Uganda, prices of grains increased to Sh2,400 and Sh2,700 for a 90 kilogramme bag.

In Kenya maize prices from different markets are oscillating between Sh3,000 and Sh3,500 for 90 kg bag.

‘Vuli’ harvest

For instance, in Tanzania, prices of maize continued to decline in April after the completion of the “Vuli” harvest, albeit at a slower rates than in March.

Despite the recent declines, however, prices in April remained generally higher than a year earlier due to the reduced 2019 cereal production coupled with sustained demand from East and Southern African countries.

Prices of maize in Uganda, the report said, continued to increase in April and at faster rates than in March, with seasonal pressure compounded by panic buying and market disruptions following the implementation of lockdown measures to limit the spread of the pandemic.

In South Sudan, prices of cereals surged in April in the capital Juba due to panic buying and disruption to cross-border trade. 

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