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Rising food prices bites in Kenya

22 April 2015, 21:44

Nairobi - Every morning, mason Peter Masinde leaves his Kariobangi home on the east of Nairobi, Kenya in search of work at construction sites.

While Masinde has been lucky since January to get work, thanks to construction boom in the East African nation, he is now a worried man as he is finding it difficult to budget his 3.2 U.S. dollar day pay.

"The cost of food is rising fast making me spend more than what I did in the past months. I now have little money to spare for my other needs that include rent," he said on Tuesday.

Some of the food items whose prices have gone up are maize flour, meat, tomatoes, sugar, milk and vegetables, among others.

A 2kg tin of dry maize is being sold at 1.02 dollars, up from a low of 0.86 dollar at the beginning of year. Similarly, a 2kg packet of maize flour is now going for 1.09 dollars, up from 0.92 dollar in the same period.

A bunch of four leaves of sukuma wiki, Kenyas' favorite vegetable, has doubled from 0.05 dollar while tomatoes and onions are going for 0.11 dollar each.

"More than half of my pay now goes on food, which was not the case in the previous months. I pray that things do not get worse because I do not think I would get a pay rise," said Masinde.

He is among hundreds of Kenyans feeling the pinch as food price rises to a new high in the East African nation.

Food inflation currently stands at 10.96 percent, up from 8.70 percent in February, according to latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

The inflation has averaged 10.71 percent since 2010, rising to an all-time high of 26.20 percent in October 2011 and dropping to 1.44 percent in October 2012.

The faster growth of the inflation was the major cause of the rise in East African nation's overall consumer inflation to 6.31 percent in March, up from 5.61 percent.

Also read: Terrorist arrested at Uhuru's home

The hardest hit is the poor, who buy goods in smaller quantities thus spending more.

The rising food inflation has been blamed on a dry spell that hit Kenya since February to April, affecting food production, with the situation seemingly not getting better as the rains become erratic.

"I hope food prices will not rise further in the coming months because we may starve. Jobs are increasingly becoming difficult to come by and the pay is low. When you spend more than half of your daily wage on food, then you may not even cloth your family or pay rent," said Beatrice Mwende, who washes clothes for a living.

Economics lecturer Henry Wandera said that Kenyans should brace for higher food inflation in the coming months as the rains are erratic.

"It only rained for about two weeks before the rains disappeared. This means we may not produce enough food in the coming months, leading to higher commodity prices and consequently food inflation," he said.


- Xinhua


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