The Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the World Vegetable Centre have distributed vegetable seeds to 4K clubs in 48 primary schools.
The Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Anne Nyaga, said that the seeds will be distributed to schools in Murang’a, Kiambu, Machakos, Kisumu, Vihiga and Kakamega.
Nyaga said that the move is aimed at promoting food security and nutrition in the country seeing that the average intake of fruits and vegetables is very low.
“Only 6% of Kenyans are eating enough vegetables. The recommended rate of consumption of fruits and vegetables by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 400 grams per day per person,” explained the CAS.
Speaking at Kilimo house during the launch, Nyaga said that the seed kits being donated to the 4-K Clubs contain a variety of traditional African vegetables that are well adapted to the Kenyan environment.
“When compared to other vegetables, these vegetables have a higher nutritional value. They can be grown without the use of chemicals, making them safe for our health and the environment,” she said.
She highlighted that as a Ministry, they are pleased to note that the inauguration of the 4-K Clubs Programme by the President last year contributed a great deal to the ongoing discussion about how to strengthen young people’s engagement in agriculture.
“As part of our ongoing support to schools to build robust and vibrant 4-K Clubs, together with the Ministry of Education, the implementation of the programme is through Centres of Excellence (CoEs). The target is to establish at least five CoEs per Ward in the next five years. A CoE in the 4-K Clubs programme is a school that has registered 4-K Club(s) and exudes the highest standards of operation,” explained Nyaga.
The CAS highlighted that in countries where World Vegetable Centre (WorldVeg) has facilitated school gardens, studies have shown that they increase children’s awareness and knowledge of fruits and vegetables and their consumption preferences.
“To have a significant impact on fruit and vegetable consumption, schools should use their gardens to enhance hands-on learning, which goes hand in hand with the newly implemented Competence Based Curriculum (CBC),” she said.
The CAS highlighted that as a Ministry, they will also leverage on the 4-K Clubs platform to disseminate and promote efficient technologies that stimulate agricultural production, such as technologies in water harvesting, irrigation, land preparation, planting, post-harvest management and agro-processing of farm products.
“For this reason, we are in consultations with the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation to leverage on boreholes and water tanks that the Ministry has been providing to schools so that this infrastructure can support agricultural projects within the 4-K and Young Farmers Clubs. In addition, we encourage schools to harvest rain water to support agricultural projects for sustainable food production,” she said.
State department for crop development and agricultural research Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. Francis Owino, said that for the revival of 4-K Clubs to be fruitful, unwavering commitment and involvement of all stakeholders is needed.
“To this end: Coordination activities through an Inter-ministerial Implementation Committee comprising five other Ministries (Education; ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs; Water, Sanitation and Irrigation; Environment and Forestry and the National Treasury and Planning) and the Project Steering Committee at the level of the Principal Secretaries for the partner Ministries, the Council of Governors (CoG) and the Agriculture and rural Development Donor Group (ARD) have continued to take place,” explained Dr. Owino.
He added that all the 47 Counties have been sensitized on the rebranded 4-K Clubs and each County has formed the 4-K Clubs County Coordination Committees (CCCs).
World Vegetable Center Country Director, Kenya, Ralph Roothaert, said that African traditional vegetables have up to four time more iron, 10 times more calcium and 14 times more vitamin A per 100-gram dry matter.
“In addition, they have various medicinal values. They are easy to grow, don’t need green houses, are prone to fewer pests and diseases, and can be successfully grown without chemicals. They are perfect candidates to treat malnutrition,” he said.
He explained that the seed kits that they are donating to the schools in the 4-K Clubs contain African traditional vegetables (ATVs) that is Amaranth (terere), Black nightshade (managu), Vegetable cowpea (kunde), Ethiopian kale (kanzira), Spider plant (sagaa), Jute mallow (mrenda), Slender leaf (mitoo) and Pumpkin.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a