The agriculture sector continues to play a critical role in Kenya’s economy accounting for 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector also employs over 40 percent of the total population and more than 70 percent of the rural populace(CBK, July 2022). It is facing multiple roundtable disruptions that interfere with equitable food distribution and resilience uptrend. Actions on pillars of food security; availability, accessibility, stability, and utilization have been staggering in Sub-saharan Africa. Kenya has not been spared in this regard.
The covid-19 Pandemic caused a catastrophic environment that disrupted food supply around the world exposing vulnerabilities that had been designed early to facilitate the swift movement of food from farm to fork in a more sustainable way. Before full recovery, climate change picked up with low, irregular, and poorly distributed March-May rainfall in most regions.
Additionally, the ongoing war in Ukraine has contributed to the driving up of wheat and cereals prices, which are our staples due to the disruption of distribution for fuel energy, fertilizers, and grains.
Reports from the Early warning system indicate that in 2023 Kenya is going to face a national food shortage owing to low production in 2022 attributed to climatic shocks and doubled farm input prices saw farmers planting halfway below average during normal production seasons.
The fluctuations resulting from shocks and trends in the food market caused food system workers to hike prices due to low supply.
On the other hand, poor agriculture strategies attributed to limited access to knowledge by smallholder farmers have hindered their ability to be climate resilient and withstand shocks that downscaled households’ food and nutrition security.
This can be observed in various forms of malnutrition, including hunger, micronutrient deficiencies, and non-communicable diseases caused by unbalanced nutrition, which threatens food security in Africa.
There has been laxity in diverse food production that specifically address the nutritional requirements and environmental footprint. Developments of biofortified crop varieties, utilization of orphan crops with high nutritional value, and diversification of cropping systems and food processing technology are still in the pipeline of adoption.
This can be stemmed from the fact that 95% of the agriculture research investment is put on extensification (putting more land to production) and intensification (increased farm inputs) rather than on off-shelf and cost-effective mobile storage to improve food transportation to local markets, especially fresh produce thus causing hundreds of tonnes of food to spoil before getting to markets hence deficits.
Slow policy response on the pricing of farm inputs, fuel, and taxation on locally produced food during transportation has been causing the inequitable distribution of food.
Youths and women who produce 70% of our food in sub-Saharan Africa are also hampered from making key decisions on production by unfavorable policy strategies on Land ownership and other cultural ties. Their footprint on sustainable and equitable food and nutrition security needs to be catapulted to get the necessary appraisal.
The Rationale of the Theme
That is why in 2023 FSPN Africa is committed to the Theme: “Building resilient and equitable supply chains for sustainable food and nutrition security.”
The theme, in 2023, will be highlighting the complex interrelations between climate change and agricultural growth, food security, and natural resource sustainability, including crop and farm-level adaptations, national-level agriculture-related policies, and investments, and regional policies and investments. Adaptations focus include infrastructure investment, water-allocation reforms, regenerative land use, modification in land-tenure rules, and changes in food trade.
Through the theme, we will be making the contributions of the smallholder farmers (primarily youths and women) to get the rightful recognition and technological support through capacity building
We must take a leap to mitigate the awaiting share of challenges by coordinating and working with all stakeholders including farmers and policymakers.
Join us. Take action for resilient, equitable, and sustainable food supply chains.