By George Munene
The USAID’s Kenya staple food price bulletin showed 2022 to be a record year for food prices across the country with prices in most monitored markets over 70 percent of the five-year average.
In November, maize prices were 29-113 per cent above the five-year average. Similarly, bean prices in monitored markets are 60-90 percent above the five-year average.
In Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Mombasa markets a 90-kilogram maize bag averaged a wholesale price of Sh4,902. The highest recorded price was Sh8,000 in Eldoret in July of this year. The previous six-year average high was Sh3,700.
While prices of the staple cooled across the country since their stratospheric high in July-August, they have again begun rising across most of Kenya other than Eldoret where they have dropped to Sh5,000 a bag. They remain unprecedently high in Kisumu– Sh 7,000 a bag and Sh 6,000 in Mombasa and Nairobi.
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The nominal retail price of maize has been without precedent; Sh100 a kilogram at Lodwar (Turkana); Sh105 in Garissa; Sh69 in Kitui as of November of 2022.
The nominal wholesale prices of beans (Rosecoco) in Eldoret and Kisumu reached a record Sh12,000 for a 90-kilogram bag in November of this year while the retail price of beans (mixed) in Kitui was Sh260 a kilogram.
Conversely, the price of livestock has fallen precipitously endangering farmer livelihoods. In the major cattle markets of Garissa, Isiolo, and Turkana the retail price of a cow averaged Sh14,636. The highest price for cow herders was Sh25,000 at Isiolo in March of last year against the previous six-year high of Sh27,000 in February 2021. This has since fallen to Sh13,500 in November of this year.
In 2022, the nominal retail prices of a cow in Garissa averaged Sh14,272, Sh10,909 in Turkana, and Sh18,727 in Isiolo.
The retail price of goats was highest in Isiolo over February and March at Sh3,200 and lowest in November at Turkana at Sh1700.
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Per the report, the prices were sampled from the Nairobi market which is indicative of urban consumers; Eldoret– the country’s grain basket; Kisumu, which is a large market located in a food deficit area with marginal agricultural productivity; Kitui– a county prone to droughts and is a marginal producing area; Lodwar market– located in Turkana– a highly food insecure pastoral district which is poorly integrated with other markets; Mandera– a food insecure area and crossborder market with inadequate trade infrastructure; Marsabit County, a conflict-affected area that is highly food insecure and poorly integrated with other markets.