The situation of food disposable in majority of households in Kenya continues to spark backsliding impression that draws a reflection of food insecurity and poor nutrition. Hundreds of thousands of households especially in informal urban settlement have been facing sharp decline in proper healthy diets and food sustainability that at most call for contingency reinforcement to fix hassle. According to Kenya Institute for Policy Analysis, 14.5 million of Kenyans face food insecurity and poor nutrition.
The number has a huge drawback in general economic prowess in that a certain percentage of population (middle and low earning) is going to face decreased productivity due to hunger stress, increase in deficiencies and puzzle of income distribution to pay bills including health treatment. Children are the ones who mostly feel the pinch of hunger and poor nutrition care whereby the end results is stunting and reduced cognitive function as compared to their healthy peers. This always has lasting setback in general performance throughout lifespan and potential possibilities of stagnation.
Pacesetter of the subject instability
- Surging prices. The increase in overall taxes always twist the price of commodities ranging from production inputs, logistics and the actual food in the market which make it problematic for most household breadwinners to procure enough food for their households.
- Shifts towards cheaper staples: since most of the households are unable to meet the cost of good nutritious foods. This makes the producers to face losses particularly on the perishable food which usually tend to demotivate their consistency in supplying foods to markets and production capacities.
- Compounding economic shocks: Events such as loss of jobs or indulgence in low paying jobs raise catastrophic pitfalls in the purchasing power. Foods in the markets go to waste due to spoilage while at the same time most of households are facing the challenge of buying the same foods even at subsidized prices.
- Low harvests in marginalized areas drives populations residing such regions to deficits in their food baskets alongside unstable food supply due to unfavorable climatic conditions and poor infrastructure.
- Inaccessibility to credits that will aid in facilitating access to sufficient utilities of production such as land, labour and markets for produce. This mostly impacts negatively smallholder farmers who are the main food producers in rural areas.
- Sole dependence on seasonal rainfall. In the recent years there has been unpredictable shift in the rainfall patterns that at time lengthens the gap between planting seasons. Occurrence of such episodes always compromise food sustainability to majority of households that practice subsistence farming.
Harmonizing the Instability
Stability is achievable when agriculture and nutrition are well intertwined using well rolled out strategies. Providing farmers with appropriate extension skills that will enable them overcome constrains in their production, increase consumer targeting for their produce through facilitation of market linkage and how to access appropriate farm inputs puts them at an advantageous production outfit. Farmers in regions of low production should be informed of the available seeds that do well in their regions to enable them catch up food production in other productive regions.
Educating the public on correct food handling procedures right from farm to fork. Proper food storage should be adopted and households learn to prepare foods that are enough for each meal time to minimize food wastage.
Farmers should be informed and encouraged to grow value chains that take short time to mature while at the same time have high demands by consumers. This will ensure continuous supply of food, increased rate of cash inflow to the producers and improved livelihoods. Generally, economic shocks will be lifted to ensure food system cycle runs smoothly.
Continuous and regular empowerment of the youth to take up roles in agriculture should be given much priority. Agriculture needs to be beautified to change youths’ perceptions and attitudes towards farming to see it as a good venture that does not belong to older people alone. They are the best replacement of the older generation and have to start emulating their elders early. Training new skills and giving the youths incentives to assist them access production utilities will minimize dependency ratio and boost food production. It is doable.
Concerted efforts on integrating nutrition sense in agriculture will help the consumers and producers particularly at smallholder levels appreciate the importance of having healthy diets, food sustainability and the need to improve on production capacity. When we have healthy population definitely growth and development will pick its course logarithmically. We must fix our food system for resilience and prosperity.