“….Once we attain power, in that Canaan we are talking about, within 90 days, the cost of living will go down, the cost of maize flour will go down, the cost of sugar will go down, the cost of milk will go down, the cost of rent will go down…”Nasa flagbearer Raila Odinga at the Jacaranda Grounds in Donholm, Nairobi May 28

Can the high cost of living drop in 90 days?

Food and fuel are the key factors that contribute to a high cost of living in Kenya, according to Institute of Economic Affairs CEO, Kwame Owino.

Since the start of 2017 the prices of food, fuel, transport and house rent have skyrocketed according to the Consumer Price Indices produced over the last five months.

The overall inflation rate stood at 11.70 in May 2017, the highest for the five years since May 2012, when it stood at 12.2 per cent. The Central Bank of Kenya prefers that inflation remain between a minimum of 2.5 per cent and a maximum of 7.5 per cent.

Inflation is the rate at which the prices of goods and services rise over time, resulting in money losing value. The cost of maize flour, maize grain, rice, sukuma wiki , spinach, cabbages, milk, kerosene and diesel have risen all sharply, driving up the cost of living, a review of the latest inflation data by Nation Newsplex shows.

While much focus has been on the price of maize flour and maize grain the spikes in the price of vegetables have been steeper.

The average price of sukuma wiki, for instance, increased by 63 per cent from Sh38 per kilo in May last year to Sh62 per kilo in April 2017 before dropping to Sh47 last month, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. 

RAIN-FED AGRICULTURE

The average price of a half-litre packet of fresh milk increased by 23 per cent from Sh53 in May 2016 to Sh64 in May this year.

Persistent drought in various parts of the country contributed to the rise in food prices. This means that if there is improved harvests after the long rains the prices of food will come down.

For instance a few weeks into the current long rains the price of milk has started declining falling by Sh10 just this week.

While government subsidies can lower costs over the short term, the long term solution to perennial food shortages can only be to implement effective policies like increasing the grain in the strategic grain reserves.

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