Why Wait Until the Next Food Crisis? Improving Food Reserve Strategies in East Africa

The importance of African countries holding food reserves for promoting food security and price stability is highlighted in this report. The food reserves policies of three countries in East Africa – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – are analysed showing how these can, indeed must, be improved to address hunger. National food reserves, when designed and implemented effectively, can play a vital role in promoting food security and price stability. After the 2008 food price crisis – when 150 million more people were pushed into poverty worldwide - the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) stated that countries with reserve stocks were ‘able to respond more quickly and cheaply than those with limited or no reserves’. Since then, food prices have remained high and/or volatile in most parts of Africa, reducing the incomes of poor people who are mainly net buyers of food. However, although most African countries currently hold food reserves, many are poorly managed, and some hold no stocks at all.