The theme of this year’s World Food Day that was celebrated on 16th October 2018 is “Our actions are our future.” Food consumption is outpacing food production. According to a new Institute for Security Studies report, annual agricultural production will need to increase by an estimated 75% from 2015 levels to meet consumption in 2030.
The third Transform Kenya Forum hosted by Standard Group under the topic Food Security was held at Strathmore University on Thursday 25th October 2018. Sponsors of the forum included: Ministry of Agriculture, Twiga Foods, Coopers Kenya, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Transform Kenya Forum was organized with the aim of influencing new ways of doing things by giving Kenyans the chance to contribute to debates on national development and in this case to spur conversations on matters food security.
The panel for the forum included; Gabriel Rugalema – FAO Representative in Kenya, Francis Kimemia – Governor Nyandarua County, Okisegere Ojepat – Food Produce Expert, Prof. Margaret Hutchinson – Lecturer UoN, Kikonde Mwatela – Chief Operating Officer Twiga Foods and Prof. Mary Abukutsa – Deputy Vice-Chancellor JKUAT.
Standard Group Chief Executive Officer Orlando Lyomu in his welcoming remarks stated that the opportunity would give impetus to take actions required to achieve national food security as envisioned by His Excellency President Uhuru M. Kenyatta in his Big 4 Agenda.
Kenya went through a severe drought spell between 2016 to 2017 that exposed 3.4 million Kenyans, to severe food insecurity crippled by cycles of climate variability extremes mainly drought and floods. The panel urged the public to change their mindset on agricultural practice noting that there is commendable growth in the sector compared to other years. Most people, especially the youth, do not like to delve into farming because they prefer jobs in the corporate sector. Prof. Mary Abukutsa – Deputy Vice-Chancellor JKUAT insisted that the academia and research has a huge role to play in terms of food production. Encouraging agricultural research in institutions would help young people appreciate the idea of agribusiness from a young age.
“We are not doing well in terms of implementing the policies that we have.” noted Prof. Hamadi Iddi Boga – Principal Secretary State Department of Agricultural Research. We have policies that are well written but are not effective neither are they monitored. Adhered policies would ensure there is increase in productivity and income growth. The panel highlighted some challenges the sector faces including; cost of production is high, poor access to markets due to poor infrastructure, high cost of irrigation, high Value Added Tax (VAT) and importing food produce from other countries that we can produce locally.
Francis Kimemia Governor Nyandarua County spoke about the need to rethink on how to revolutionize agriculture. “We need to be realistic about agriculture. As a government we have not been serious about agriculture.” Said the governor as he highlighted on ways that could help improve the sector; we should think of how technology will benefit agriculture, introduce new varieties of crops that are of right standards to open up to international markets. As a nation we need to take care of our own indigenous foods that are healthy and nutritious, a healthy people equals a productive nation.
Strathmore Business School agribusiness programmes seek to influence growth in the agricultural sector in Africa and beyond and are keen on providing sustainable solutions to global food security challenges, with the requisite skills and expertise to do so.
Some Food Security Facts: