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Gov’t calls for collaboration to achieve food safety

The national and county governments have expressed commitments to work in collaboration with intergovernmental organizations, farmers and private stakeholders for the prosperity of the agricultural sector, the backbone of Kenya’s economy.

Speaking during the fourth Intergovernmental Forum on Agriculture in Mombasa Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Peter Munya said that the country is still lagging behind in terms of food security thus the need to enhance collaboration to achieve a modern agricultural sector that supports a 100 per cent food and nutrition security.

Munya said the transformation of the sector needs a widest stakeholders’ participation which will provide an opportunity to reflect on the transformation of the sector.

“We still have some gaps to be filled in order for us to reach our targets. The sector has grappled with drought, locusts’ invasion, and the pandemic. Through appropriate and timely intervention we can achieve our goal. The United Nations Food System Summit demonstrated our commitment towards achieving food security. I therefore encourage stakeholders to embrace all the outcomes as they assist in our collaboration,” said Munya.

A section of the participants follow proceedings during the 4th intergovernmental forum on Agriculture held at the PrideInn Hotel, Mombasa. Photo by Andrew Hinga

The CS said that through the E-voucher system introduced by the government, transformations on the way agricultural government subsidies are distributed have been noticed.

He noted that there is also a noticeable approach by the government to the scaling up of data and digital technology to increase agricultural productivity.

“We also initiated the strategic food reserve reforms through the digital data platforms. From the 3rd IGF, one of the resolutions was to roll out a youth strategy; we have rebranded the 4K clubs for investment and business,” added Munya.

He praised the President for making a big stride in terms of improving the sector by including food security as one of the Big Four Agendas.

Munya encouraged the private sector to be part of the collaboration saying there is quite a long way to go.

“The key challenges we need to deal with are climate change by putting various interventions and mitigations measures, working with our livestock keepers to change their mindset on how they can manage their animals during drought season, settling the problem of quality fertilizer and animal feeds and making young people interested in agriculture by making it seem like a business,” said Munya.

Council of Governors (COG) Chairman for Agricultural Committee Dr. James Nyoro who is also Kiambu County Governor said that the counties have agreed to allocate a minimum of 10 per cent of the budget in enhancing the food security systems.

Nyoro also said COG is advocating for the country to have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that is largely driven by agriculture.

“The problem is that we have an increase of people living below the poverty line which has caused by lack of growth in agricultural and manufacturing sectors. By putting more money in agriculture, Intra and intergovernmental coordination will help transform the sector,” he said.

Nyoro said that COG has urged the development partners not to encourage areas where the national and county governments seem like competing or duplicating roles.

“Those jurisdictions that have done well in agricultural food transformation include the aspect of monitoring and evaluation. It is important that we hold people responsible for the money that we have given them. We should be answerable on telling the people on the resources put in agriculture on how far they have gone and what is the progress,” he said.

He added that, in terms of bridging the gap in production and consumption of food, the progress is noticeable.

“We however have a long way to go, the gap still remains large. We import basic food commodities that could be produced in the country. The government should ensure these gaps are closed as the population is also increasing,” said Nyoro.

The governor said COG is advocating for a major overhaul in the agricultural sector. He said the council pushes for the moving out of the practice of subsistence to commercial agricultural systems.

“We also have to agree (that) for the sector to prosper, we have to have standards that are international in nature. We should also be having our destiny in saying where we are going in terms of enhancing the sector. In terms of competitiveness of the cash crops, we still have a long way to go,” he added.

By Chari Suche

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