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April 21, 2008

Fungal disease decimates rice crop in central Kenya

Kenya's food crisis was set to worsen after a fungi wiped out 10 to 20 per cent of its annual rice production, the UN said on April 18.

The fungi destroyed 5,600 hectares of rise in the Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Central Province, known as the rice basket of the country, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It meant the country, a net importer of rice, would now be forced to buy more supplies against a backdrop of rising global food prices.

"This worsens Kenya's food insecurity as it will make the import of additional supplies even more expensive," said OCHA spokes woman Elisabeth Byrs.

Rice was up 75 per cent in the last two months while the World Bank reported last week that wheat had also climbed 120 per cent in a year.

The new coalition government has directed the National Cereals and Produce Board to sell fertilizers at less than half the current market rate in a move designed to help struggling farmers.

Earth Times

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