Kenya's grain production rebounds

by Holly Demaree
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Demand for corn, wheat and rice is due the diversification of the Kenyan diets.
 

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Kenya’s corn, wheat and rice production for the marketing year 2017-18 is forecast to increase due to a drought recovery experienced in the 2016-17 market year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in a March 21 report. The demand increase for the three commodities is also due to a surge in human consumption of corn, wheat and rice based food products, and due to increased use of corn and wheat in livestock feeds manufacture. Imports of the commodities will offset the supply shortfall.

Corn remains the staple food crop in Kenya and consumption is expected to continue increasing despite the diversification of Kenyan diets. Demand for corn in the manufacture of animal feeds also is expected to increase due to a recent major investment in the subsector, the FAS said. Kenya will therefore remain a corn deficit country and the need for imports will remain into the foreseeable future. In market year 2016-17, imports into Kenya from other East African Community (EAC) countries were minimal due to general supply shortfall in the region. The government of Kenya has banned corn exports and is reportedly exploring imports from non-EAC sources while taking into account the steep EAC common external tariff currently set at 50% ad-varolem and Kenya’s current import ban on genetically modified (GM) products.

Wheat consumption in Kenya continues to increase due to changing dietary patterns and an expanding and robust food service sector. According to the FAS, in both rural and urban areas, a growing preference for wheat products is evident across the income groups, and both commercial and home baking have become common. The popularity of international pasta, confectionery and breakfast cereals brands in the Kenyan market also points to the increasing embrace of new dietary patterns. A limited amount of wheat is also used in the manufacture of livestock feeds.

Rice consumption in Kenya continues to increase rapidly due changing dietary preferences, higher incomes and urbanization. The FAS said local production has not been able to meet demand and the resultant deficit is offset by imports by private traders, mainly from Pakistan, Thailand, India and Vietnam. There are also modest imports from neighboring EAC countries of Tanzania and Uganda. Since July 1, 2015, EAC maintains a common external tariff of 75% ad-valorem or $345 per ton, whichever is higher for rice imports from non-EAC countries. Kenya has however been granted by EAC “the stay of application,” based on limited local production, and therefore applies the previous tariff structure of 35% ad-valorem or $200 per ton, whichever is higher. This waiver is reviewed every year by the EAC secretariat.

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