Kenya, Tanzania perdict food shotages, grain shortfalls

by Teresa Acklin
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   NAIROBI, KENYA — Crop failures in Kenya and Tanzania could result in food shortages in the next few months, government officials said recently. Kenyan Agriculture Minister Musalia Mudavadi said drought was to blame for the 360,000-tonne grain shortfall in his East African country. Maize is a staple food for Kenyans. “Even if the rains came today, chances of recovery are poor and it is expected that for most of the areas there will be total crop failure,” Mr. Mudavadi said.

   Residents in northern Kenya have already requested food aid, he said. In Tanzania, more than 300,000 people in the central region of Dodoma are at risk of starvation in the next five months, according to Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye. The country needs international help to stave off a famine, he said.

   Mr. Sumaye said the government plans to import 50,000 tonnes of emergency food. Abnormally dry weather, blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon, has dried fields and killed crops across central and northeastern Tanzania. Shortages in Tanzania's maize crop are expected to approach 600,000 tonnes, the state-run radio reported.

   The El Nino weather phenomenon occurs when trade winds weaken, allowing a large mass of warm water in the western Pacific to pulse to the east along the equator toward South America. The shift reverses normal weather patterns, resulting in drought in usually wet locales and flooding in dry areas.

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