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Agricultural research key in ensuring food security amid climate crisis

The government and development partners have invested heavily in research and innovation to transform food, land and water systems amidst the climate crisis that is threatening food security.

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi said that they have partnered with CGIAR centres and other partners on a Research and Innovation Strategy, which sets out the vision to Transform Food, Land and Water Systems in a Climate Crisis.

Speaking on Tuesday at a Nairobi hotel during the opening session of the Kenya Food Systems Conference, Linturi said that Kenya faces food and nutrition security challenges mainly due to declining productivity of agricultural land, high costs of agricultural inputs, high post-harvest losses, inadequate access to financial and insurance services and low youth participation in agriculture among others.

“To address these challenges, the government under the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Plan has prioritized Agriculture as a key pillar for development,” Linturi said.

The CS explained that the plan puts a strong emphasis on the role of agriculture, livestock development, and small and medium enterprises in food manufacturing and service sectors.

He added that the plan recognizes that agriculture and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are key to the country’s economic recovery and is committed to increasing investments in these sectors. “

Many of our MSMEs, including those engaged in manufacturing are based on agriculture. Our ambition therefore is to transform these sectors as they are key to transforming our country’s food systems,” said the CS.

“I would like to appreciate the strong presence of CGIAR centres in Kenya. Indeed, the country is pleased to host the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the only centre with a livestock-focused mandate.  Other CGIAR centres are equally well represented in this country,” said Linturi.

He added that the research partnership with CGIAR contributes to addressing today’s development challenges through country and regional partnerships to deliver research outcomes and impacts in areas like nutrition, health, food security, poverty reduction, climate adaptation and mitigation and environmental health.

“It is therefore, gratifying to see that the CGIAR impact areas align very well with the Kenya Government priorities in the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) and its flagships and the Government manifesto, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the African Union’s Malabo Declaration Commitments under the CAADP Framework,” said Linturi.

The CS said that these research initiatives have started to produce evidence to support decision-making and policy dialogues in support of the Bottom-Up Economic Plan of the Government.

“As indicated earlier, the Plan puts a strong emphasis on the role of agriculture, livestock development and small and medium enterprises in food manufacturing and service sectors,” said Linturi.

He explained that such a strong emphasis on agri-food systems provides an enormous opportunity to unleash the potential of agriculture value chains in Kenya for economic and social development, while at the same time considering the ongoing uncertainties related to climate, food supplies, and high food prices.

“This conference, jointly organized by my Ministry and one of the CGIAR initiatives on National Policies and Strategies (NPS), will provide policy and decisions with state-of-the art, evidence-based recommendations developed by Kenyan researchers in collaboration with their international counterparts,” said Linturi.

“In addition, a matchmaking “marketplace” will bring together CGIAR initiatives and their Kenyan research partners with Kenyan policymakers and decision makers to identify current and future research demand and explore how research can effectively provide timely information to policy and decision makers,” said the CS.

He expressed hope that the conference will be the start of a new era of enhancing the interface between science and policy, saying that the conference is an important engagement as it will help identify current and future research demands and explore how research can more effectively provide timely information to policy and decision makers.

“In this regard, the Ministry will support proposals for mechanisms that enhance the science policy interface, for sustained strategic engagement and partnership so that stakeholders can continue to co-design and co-create innovations for food, land, and water systems transformation in the country,” said Linturi.

 By Joseph Ng’ang’a


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