Kenya assures of food security despite COVID-19 pandemic
Kenya is committed to ensuring food security despite the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic which may disrupt the agricultural system, a government official said on Tuesday.
Peter Munya, cabinet secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, said that food supply is so far sufficient in all parts of the country.
"Let's resist panic buying which will create an unwarranted shock in the market pushing the cost of food up," Munya told journalists in Nairobi.
Munya assured Kenyans that the government is putting in place the necessary mechanisms to avert potential food shortages due to the impacts of the deadly virus.
"The government has constituted a COVID-19 county coordination and food security committee comprised of key sector ministries and council of governors," he added.
He said that the government will release guidelines to all stakeholders in the agricultural sub-sector on how to conduct their business while ensuring their own safety and that of their customers.
The official however noted that COVID-19 pandemic impacts are already taking toll on the country's agricultural system.
"The impact is being felt particularly in the fresh produce industry that has been occasioned by the lockdown in most countries and the collapse of prices at the auction," Munya noted.
He observed that internally, the ongoing restrictions on movement have caused a strain in some areas on farmers' ability to access markets and to buy inputs and sell products.
Munya noted that 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 over 70 percent of their income over the last month," he revealed.
Munya added that vegetables and fruits markets remain with minimal activities as exporters are shipping only 25-30 percent of their normal capacity and many contracted out-grower farmers have reported losses due to non-collection of their produce from their farms.
He said that COVID-19 is also impacting other world economies in unprecedented ways adding that Kenya is not alone.
"We are 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.
He said that the government is closely monitoring the cost of food across the country and taking stern measures against traders who create artificial price inflation on food and agriculture inputs.
"The government is aware of the potential threat COVID-19 poses to agriculture workforces' and farmers' safety and health and will ensure that the agriculture sector will play a pivotal role in steering the economy back on its growth trajectory," he added.
Munya called on farmers to continue the production of food to avoid food shortages, adding that farmers will be facilitated to access affordable inputs and extension support. (Xinhua)