wheat drought
The 2017-18 wheat crop was ravaged by drought in key wheat producing regions.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Production of corn and wheat in Kenya is expected to increase in the 2018-19 marketing year, according to a March 28 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Corn production in Kenya is forecast to rebound to 3.2 million tonnes, up from 2.9 million tonnes in 2017-18, driven in part by a recovery from a nearly two-year period of erratic weather, the improved management of fall army worm, and the apparent containment of maize lethal necrosis.

The USDA also is forecasting a marginal increase in Kenya’s harvested corn area in 2018-19, due in part to incentives that the government of Kenya is planning to give farmers under the “Big Four” program.

“Under the ‘Big Four’ GOK program, corn production is prioritized for acceleration, through a public-private partnerships model that will involve identification and leasing of underutilized medium/large scale farms and dedicating them to corn production,” the USDA noted in the report. “The program targets an additional 50,000 hectares (12,3550 acres) in 2018. In order to increase yield in traditional corn growing areas, both GOK and county governments have increased funding their fertilizer and seed distribution programs. The full impact of these production supporting measures is likely to be realized beyond MY 2018-19.”

Wheat production, meanwhile, is forecast to increase to 360,000 tonnes in 2018-19, up from 300,000 in 2017-18. The 2017-18 wheat crop was ravaged by drought in key wheat producing regions, the USDA said. The agency noted that wheat harvested area is expected to hold steady as most farmers are hesitant to expand their farms due to declining returns on investment.

In addition to weather issues, other factors affecting wheat yields in Kenya include the widespread use of recycled seed by farmers and the resultant prevalence of wheat stem rust disease, the USDA said.

”Wheat farming in Kenya will in the long term also be constrained by the subdivision of family-owned farms into smaller units for inheritance purposes, and shifts to other more competitive enterprises such as barley, horticulture, dairy, and sorghum,” the USDA noted in the report.