February 14, 2017 / 9:31 AM / 5 months ago

REFILE-Kenya expects to mostly get poor rainfall in March-May

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By George Obulutsa

NAIROBI, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Kenya is expected to receive poor rainfall in the main March to May rainy season, the meteorological office said, a situation which could exacerbate an already acute drought.

Weather forecasts in Kenya, which largely depends on rain-fed agriculture, are key in gauging inflation trends.

The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) said in its long rains (March-May) outlook that food growing areas of Western and Nyanza would have near-normal rain.

"The expected poor temporal distribution of the seasonal rainfall is, however, likely to negatively impact most agricultural areas," KMD said in a statement.

The weather office said that agricultural areas in the southeast of the country were expected to receive poor rains during the period, as were parts of eastern and northern Kenya.

"Food security is expected to deteriorate over most parts of the country and more so the northern areas of Kenya," KMD said.

"The poor rainfall performance expected over the Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs) will continue to impact negatively on the livestock sector."

Kenya's inflation rate rose to 6.99 percent year-on-year in January, up from 6.35 percent in December, partly due to drought and a rise in the cost of electricity.

Last week, the government declared a national disaster and appealed for aid to counter a drought that is posing a risk to people, livestock and wildlife.

The Kenya Red Cross has estimated about 2.7 million people need food aid after low rainfall in October and November.

Kenya is the world's leading exporter of black tea, making it a major foreign exchange earner.

KMD also said that poor rains in the October to December season had led to crop failure in most agricultural areas, lack of pasture and reduction of water levels in Seven-Forks and Turkwell hydroelectric dams. (Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Clement Uwiringiyimana and Angus MacSwan)

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