Written by Naftali Mwaura
The Kenyan government in partnership with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and several private sector entities will on Wednesday, August 22, host a one day forum to discuss how the east African nation can transform agriculture to achieve food security.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga will open the “Kenya Agricultural Transformation Forum” that brings on board key stakeholders o deliberate on how the country can achieve food security through innovative, commercially oriented and competitive agriculture.
“The forum will provide a platform for key government officials, relevant donor partners, actors along the value chain, the private sector and farmer organizations to dialogue on means to attain food and nutrition security in Kenya,” said a statement from AGRA
Agriculture contributes 26% to Kenya`s GDP alongside accounting for 70% of informal employment in rural areas.
“Sustained agricultural growth is critical to uplifting the living standards of Kenyans as well as generating rapid economic growth that is inclusive,” read the statement
It added that adequate access to food and nutrition through input and output markets will transform livelihoods and accelerate progress on attaining MDGs and Vision 2030.
Food production in Kenya demands a paradigm shift in the light of rapid population growth, climate change and shrinking acreage of arable land.
The statement was emphatic that with a population growth rate of 2.6%, Kenya`s food demand is expected to outstrip supply, hence the need for interventions that address bottlenecks to food sufficiency.
It revealed that currently, 6% of Kenyans require food relief and this number shots up to 9% during drought and flooding seasons.
“The country also faces a challenge of feeding 750,000 refugees (more than the entire population of Nyeri county), who because of their status in life, are not in active food production,” revealed the statement
To make the agriculture sector vibrant, the government has created a conducive policy and legal environment to boost investments and establishment of supportive infrastructure.
Access to inputs like seeds, fertilizers and pesticides alongside crop insurance and good agronomic practices have been emphasized.
The statement observed that streamlining the value chains will benefit farmers and boost competitive in agriculture sector.
It disclosed that involvement of youth and women in food production will be stressed at the forum.