WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Imports of corn, wheat and rice are expected to increase in Kenya in the 2019-20 marketing year due in large part to a widening local supply deficit, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA said Kenya’s corn and wheat production are forecast to fall due to reduced planted area. Meanwhile, rice production is expected to stagnate, reflecting delays in anticipated rehabilitation and expansion of the country’s irrigation infrastructure.

Even as production wanes, consumption of the three crops is expected to keep increasing, the USDA noted.

Corn production is forecast at 3.6 million tonnes in 2019-20, down from 4.05 million in 2018-19, according to the USDA.

“FAS/Nairobi forecasts a dip in Kenya’s harvested corn area in MY 2019-20 due to low morale among farmers caused by a marketing crisis that engulfed the sector in the MY 2018-19,” the agency said. “Whereas the sector recovered significantly from the drought of MY 2016-17, the government of Kenya through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) reduced the budget allocation for the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) purchases to cover only two million bags down from the previous four million bags.”

Wheat production also is expected to fall, easing to 320,000 tonnes in 2019-20 from 360,000 tonnes in 2018-19. The USDA said farmers in Kenya are shifting to more competitive enterprises, including barley, dairy, sorghum and pyrethrum.

A surge in wheat imports is forecast for the coming year, the USDA said. The agency said the bulk of Kenya’s wheat imports come from Russia, Argentina, Ukraine, Canada and Latvia. The United States is not a significant source of wheat imports for Kenya because of a long-standing restriction on Pacific Northwest wheat due to a lack of an export certification protocol for flag smut, the USDA said.