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Posted Thu Aug 20 2009: from IRIN News (UN):
Kenya: Massive crop failure in 'grain basket'
Two months before harvest time, the maize in Kenya's Rift Valley should be tall, lush and green, bursting with life. Instead, crops in the province's Lare division are stunted, barren fields of parched browns and pallid yellows. The area, local farmers say, has experienced three years of erratic rainfall. This year, however, has been "a nightmare" ... "I do not expect to harvest anything, yet I used a lot of money to prepare my land and plant maize and beans earlier this year," the 70-year-old farmer said.... "Overall, we expect at least 95 percent maize crop failure across the larger Nakuru areas; only areas such as Weseges in Nakuru North may see some maize harvests," said Stephen Muriithi, the Nakuru district agricultural officer.... To cope with the food crisis, the vulnerable communities have resorted to reducing the number and size of meals per day; restricting adult consumption to allow more for children; consuming seed stock; taking children out of school to help search for food; engaging in casual labour; relying on remittances; using part of the resettlement money to open up land; ploughing more than 90 percent of available arable land for crop production; and building residential units on farms for income. In other parts of the country, substantial crop failure in the southeastern and coastal marginal cropping lowlands is expected to lead to deepening food insecurity, said the assessment.
[Read more stories about: food crisis, weather extremes]

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