Written by Henry Neondo
Kenya must involve the youth as well as strive to innovate her agricultural sector if it has to assure her citizens on food security, experts meeting at an agricultural forum by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in partnership with the Agriculture Sector Coordination Unit (ASCU) and the Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat (VDS) and held Wednesday in Nairobi said.
The Kenya Agricultural Transformation Forum which brought government, private sector and agricultural research experts together to map out strategies for developing practical solutions to fuel Kenya’s agricultural and nutritional future.
“We have to make agriculture interesting for them, because they will not be motivated if they have to use jembes, and if the sector is not highly productive,” said Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga, whose Forum address was delivered by the Minister for Labour Dalmas Otieno,
As a catalyst, Kenya government was urged to learn from the ongoing challenges with drought, crop disease and spiking food prices to ensure the right policy changes that will bring about the desired changes.
“The Kenya Government is deeply committed to investing in this sector, because we can see the potential it carries for attaining our food security objectives as well as increasing rural incomes. This commitment is evident in that we have positioned agriculture as one of the six sectors expected to generate the bulk of Vision 2030,” he added.
Kenya is currently implementing the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) which envisages a food secure and prosperous nation by 2020. Two pillars of that strategy are to reduce the number of food insecure people by 30 percent, and to reduce the numbers of people living below the poverty line to less than 25 percent.
Speaking at the Forum on behalf of Kenya’s Vision 2030, Mugo Kibati said, “Agriculture is the engine of our nation’s economy; yet far too many Kenyans struggle to ensure their fields prosper and their families are fed. There is far too much promise in our country’s agricultural sector for us to fall short of our economic potential. ”
The meeting was designed to strengthen the strategy framework for enhanced research innovation and small-holder farmer supports that will help Africa achieve its rightful place as a global leader in achieving sustainable food security.
AGRA President Jane Karuku called for deepening of alliances and investments in innovation that will help women and men on front lines of Kenya’s agricultural workforce. Given the proper support, the smallholder farmers can feed the future of the country and the continent.”
The Forum follows global meetings focused on food security and nutrition – WEF Africa, the G8 Summit and UK Hunger Summit – laying important groundwork for the upcoming African Green Revolution Forum which will sets the stage for African ownership in the next phase of scaling agricultural development solutions and steering investment to build a sustainable food secure future. The Forum also lends momentum in the lead up to the National Agriculture Sector Development Forum and the Vision 2030 Medium-Term Plan.
The Forum discussed the need for agricultural innovation, food pricing agricultural financing and links to nutrition. These issues are critically important given that agriculture accounts for 65 percent of Kenya’s total exports and provides more than 70 percent of informal employment in rural areas according to Kenya’s Agricultural Sector Development Strategy.