(Xinhua) -- The UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Tuesday that
severe drought is pushing up food prices sharply in East
According to the FAO’s latest Food
Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulleting (FPMA), soaring
cost of basic staples is an extra challenge for
pastoralists as livestock prices fall.
"Drought throughout East Africa has sharply curbed
harvests and pushed the prices of cereals and other
staple foods to unusually high levels, posing a heavy
burden to households and special risks for pastoralists
in the region," the FAO said.
The UN agency said insufficient rainfall in most
areas of the sub-region has put enormous strain on
livestock and their keepers.
It said poor livestock body conditions due to pasture
and water shortages and forcible culls mean animals
command lower prices, leaving pastoralists with even
less income to purchase basic foodstuffs.
Local prices of maize, sorghum and other cereals are
near or at record levels in swathes of Ethiopia, Kenya,
Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the Tanzania, according
to the report.
Poor rainfall in recent months has dented farm output
in the sub-region, where food stocks were already
depleted by the strong El Nino phenomenon that ended
only last year
According to the FAO, Somalia’s maize and sorghum
harvests are estimated to be 75 percent down from their
usual level, and some 6.2 million people, more than half
of the country’s total population, now face acute food
insecurity with the majority of those most affected
living in rural areas.
"In Kenya, where eastern and coastal lowlands as well
as some western areas of the Rift Valley all suffered
below-average rainfall, maize prices are up by around 30
percent, with the increase somewhat contained somewhat
thanks to sustained imports from Uganda," the FAO said.
The report said beans now cost 40 percent more in
Kenya than a year earlier, while in Uganda, maize prices
are now up to 75 percent higher than a year earlier.
Prices of maize increased by 23 percent in January in
Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, and in key market towns
of central and southern Somalia, coarse grain prices in
January have doubled from a year earlier.
In South Sudan, food prices are now two to four times
above their levels a year earlier, exacerbated by
ongoing insecurity and the significant depreciation of
the local currency.
"With an earlier than usual depletion of household
stocks during the coming lean season and preliminary
weather forecasts raising concerns for the performance
of the next rainy season, prices are likely to further
escalate in the coming months," it said.
The report said shortages of pasture and water caused
livestock deaths and reduced their body mass, prompting
herders to sell animals while they can, which is also
occurring in drought-wracked southern Ethiopia.
"This also pushes up the prices of milk, which is,
for instance, up 40 percent on the year in Somalia’s
Gedo region," it said.