Kenya: Officials Warn of Food Shortage

Kenyans woke to a warning in the nation's largest newspaper, the Daily Nation, that the country could face "an unprecedented food crisis" next year because of the drought that still plagues the Rift Valley and other regions. The problem is that the rainy season is ending without the precipitation expected when farmers planted in October. The Kenyan government provided a billion shillings, or about $13 million, in farm inputs to encourage the October planting, according to the newspaper.

Kenya: At the Paradise Hotel

Ask a typical American what corn means to him or her, and you're likely to get a blank stare, unless they've read The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan's best seller, or watched a movie like Food Inc. That person may say corn has taken over the American diet, caused the U.S. obesity crisis and contributed to environmental degradation. Corn, after all, is used in some way to produce everything from meat to snack chips and soft drinks.

But ask poor east Africans what corn, or maize, means to them and they'll tell you it is what sustains life.

Kenya: Rift Valley Wasteland

I grew up in western Texas and covered the Midwest's devastating drought of 1988. I know what a drought looks like, but I've never seen anything like the devastation to a portion of the Rift Valley near the Tanzania border that I visited today in pursuit of corn farmers.

Kenya: "Let the Rain Come"

Fog shrouded the surrounding hills as a steady rain fell in the town of Machakos today, driving customers from the shops and market stalls in the middle of town. Tarps were draped over bins of grain and beans to keep them dry. But just try to find a merchant unhappy with the rain. "No problem. It's only for a while," said one vegetable vendor in the market. "Then we'll have enough food for Kenya."

For IDPs in Kenya, lost homes, broken promises

Jordan Wilson, Pulitzer Student Fellow

ELDORET -- It's been a rather topsy-turvy two years for internally displaced persons in Kenya. After being violently removed from their homes in the waning days of 2007 due to post-election violence, hundreds of thousands have called patches of grass and makeshift tents home ever since. A recent, almost-too-late promise of compensation from the government didn't help repair the situation, as most IDPs never saw a shilling and hostility between the Kenyan people and their government is still brewing.

Kenya: Africans Not Sold on Biotech Food

An issue earlier this year of New African, a widely distributed monthly news magazine, carried the cover story: "GM Food: Is it good for Africa?" The headline on the story inside gave the answer: "Seeds of destruction." That's a message that Africans have been getting for a decade at least about genetically engineered crops. And governments, with a handful of exceptions, most notably South Africa's, have kept biotech seeds out of their country, much to the frustration of the U.S. government and American agribusiness.

Kenya: Fighting Drought the Traditional Way

It remains to be seen whether genetically modified crops will ever be grown in east Africa, but in the meantime scientists already are reporting some success with improving the drought tolerance of corn, known here as maize, the old-fashion way, crossing existing lines from as far away as Mexico with lines common to Africa. Agronomist Dan Makumbi says yield improvements though this traditional breeding can mean the difference between whether small-scale farmers can feed their families or not.

Kenya: Wild Elephants Won’t Stop GMOs

In some parts of the world, biotech companies have had to worry about keeping environmental activists out of their research plots. Companies can ill afford to have these big-money experiments ruined. Here in Kenya, scientists have a different worry - elephants.

Kenya: Testing Ground for GMOs

What happens here in Kenya could change the way the world views genetically modified food. Whether it really makes a positive difference in the lives of Africans remains to be seen. Why is Kenya key? The first reason is obvious enough. The first transgenic, drought-tolerant maize crop intended for east Africa will be grown in field trials next year. (The photo above, provided by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, is of a conventionally bred version of drought-tolerant corn.)