By David Oduut
Several families in Pallisa district are surviving on porridge due to the escalation of food prices resulting from poor harvest. Pallisa is among the districts grappling with a severe food crisis. Much as government supplied relief food to the district recently through the Office of the Prime Minister residents, say the relief isn’t enough.
Currently, a basin of dried cassava chips costs Shillings 30,000 while a tin of millet goes for Shillings 10,000. A kilogram of cassava flour costs Shillings 2000 while that of Maize flour costs Shillings 3500. Max Okiria, a resident of Amoni village in Gogonyo Sub County, says the food shortage in the district has forced the business community to hike food prices making life extremely difficult for the poor.
Okiria, who heads a family of 9 people, says his family eats food on certain days and depends on cassava porridge on other days. “Food is now a highly valued asset so you have to use it sparingly otherwise you risk starving the next day,” Okiria told Ste FM as he patted his visibly hungry three- year-old daughter to sleep.
He faults the business community of taking advantage of the famine to rake in a fortune and develop their businesses. John Epalitai, a resident of Achango village, says he has resorted to porridge to feed his 12 children since he can only afford 3 kilograms of maize floor a week.
Charles Otim, the Officer in Charge of Agule Police Station, says cases of early child marriage are on the rise as parents marry off young girls to raise money to feed their families. 31-year-old Hellen Asio, a resident of Gogonyo and mother of eight children has asked government to send more food relief to the district as they wait for the earliest crop harvest that may come in mid-June.
Sam Okoyo, the Lc3 chairperson Gogonyo Sub County has appealed to the body community to moderate food prices considering the fact that many families are starving and are equally poor to afford to buy food. Okoyo says the rise in food prices has forced residents to resort to selling livestock cheaply in order to raise money to feed their families.
“People have no choice but to survive, apparently you can get a bull meant for Shillings 1 Million being sold at Sh.450, 000 to Sh.600, 000,” Okoyo said.