WASHINGTON DC, April 24 – The World Bank has approved an emergency grant of Sh395 million to assist Kenya’s small scale farmers increase maize production.
The Kenya Agricultural Input Supply grant is provided under the Bank’s Global Food Crisis Response Program that is supporting countries experiencing food shortfalls due to drought and high input costs.
According to a statement from the Bank, Kenya had been considered for this grant as it faces significant food shortfalls due to the impact of the current drought in the country, high input prices and the global financial crisis.
“Kenyans are experiencing significant food shortages due to the impact of the 2008 post election crisis that affected the output of grains and cereals from the country’s bread basket,” said Johannes Zutt, Country Director for Kenya.
“The situation has further been aggravated by high prices of main agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, and the impact of the current global economic crisis on agricultural value chains.”
The grant is intended to scale up an existing Government of Kenya seed and fertilizer voucher scheme and the National Accelerated Agricultural Inputs Access Program.
It will target 50,000 smallholder farmers in six maize producing districts in the Rift Valley who will receive vouchers that they will exchange for seeds and fertilizers at registered agro-dealers.
High fuel prices increased the cost of fertilizers by over 200 percent between January and April 2008, as a result of high input costs and post election crisis, the area planted with maize during the long rains last year was 25 percent less than normal.
The combined impact of these crises has reduced Kenya’s national maize production for the 2007/08 season to an estimated 2.43 million metric tons – a 23 percent shortfall against an estimated national consumption of 3.15 million metric tons.
It is forecasted that Kenya will face a maize shortfall for about four months before its next big harvest that beginss in October 2009.
The grant seeks to increase the likelihood that crop production in 2009 will meet national consumption.
The support is expected to result in gross production of an additional 45,000 metric tones of maize.
“The Bank will support the measures that the Kenya Government has implemented to restore cereal production and stabilise consumer food prices,” said Andrew Karanja, the Task Team Leader of the Project.