The volume of rice imported into Kenya has been on an upward trajectory for five years to 2022.
In 2018 alone, rice import volume stood at 59,933.88 metric tonnes when taxpayers coughed a whooping Ksh.25.5 billion, according to data from Metropol Harvest.
From 2019 to last year, the country imported 1.8 million metric tonnes at a tune of Ksh.116.95 billion.
The year 2022 saw an uptick in the import – 67,808.76 metric tonnes which cost taxpayers Ksh.34.4 billion.
A report by Fitch Ratings, however, points to a significant surge in rice prices in Kenya occasioned by reduced production of the commodity by the world’s largest producers, China and Russia.
‘Heavy rains in China’s grain-producing region that will reduce yields is likely to put pressure on already high global rice prices’, reads in part a report by Fitch Ratings.
The regions affected by the floods produce 23% of the country’s production, making it a major contributor to the total annual country and thus global rice production.
In the year 2022/23, China produced 147 million metric tons of rice against consumption of 155 million metric tons, making it a net importer of the commodity.
Economic analyst Murugi Ndai says that China may “need to look to import more rice if the anticipated shortfall is anything to go by, thus driving the global rice prices even higher.”
Globally, rice is the second staple food with 16.5% consumption after maize which stands at 19.5%, while wheat comes third with 14%.
In Kenya however, rice is the third most consumed commodity after maize and wheat. Kenya unfortunately cannot meet its consumption demand of all its top three staple food with importation as the only option to bridge the deficit.