Kenyans could be sleeping hungry while tones of the country’s food stocks rot away, an environmental lobby group has claimed.
Responding to a recent global report that put Kenya at position 86 out of 117 countries in the Global Index Report on food security.
Greenpeace Africa’s Food Campaigner Claire Nasike says the ranking makes Kenya among the 50 hungriest countries in the world.
Nasike laments that this is worrying noting that the problem could have been addressed if the country could have put in place better crop post –harvest handling mechanisms.
She explained that much of the food produced in Kenya goes to waste due to poor storage measures leading to loss of hundreds of tons of foodstuffs that could be enough to feed the country for years.
“It is appalling to hear that Kenya suffers from serious hunger when tons of food go to waste due to poor post-harvest handling techniques. Farmers lack proper storage facilities and infrastructure among other challenges. It is disturbing that Kenya’s hunger situation has declined from a global hunger index score of 23.3 in 2018 to 25.2 in 2019’’, said the official through a press statement.
The organization is now calling upon the Government to institute proper mechanisms to address the problem of post-harvest losses adding that lack of adequate and nutritious food is a key contributor to underdevelopment in many third world countries.
Nasike has similarly called upon the new Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to prioritize food production as articulated in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
Munya was appointed to the Agriculture docket on January 14 2019 following the sacking of his predecessor Mwangi Kiunjuri. “To boost domestic food production, the Ministry needs to ensure that farmers have access to proper and timely information on the weather patterns, efficient storage facilities, access to markets, and adequate water during dry periods and access to indigenous seeds that are well adapted to the local climate,” she added.
Green peace is also urging Kenyans to resort to the consumption of indigenous food that have been found to be more nutritious and a safeguard against emerging lifestyle diseases.
Last week the organizations Senior Political Advisor Fredrick Njehu while hailing the appointment of Munya said the new CS should bring hope to millions of farmers who had almost given up after years of mismanagement of the sector, thanks to entry of ruthless cartels and middlemen.
Njehu said Munya’s entry into the powerful docket brings with it an aura of synergy and expertise evidence from Munya’s sterling performance in the Agriculture docket while serving as governor between 2013 and 2017.
And early this month Machakos County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Agriculture Urbanus Wambua Musyoka cautioned farmers against selling their maize crop after harvest as a cushion against hunger in the event the long rains fail.
Musyoka instead urged farmers to dry their harvest and preserve it in well ventilated stores as they wait the dry spell when they can sell it at a profit.
Musyoka who was addressing farmers in Kabaa sub location, Mbiuni location, Mwala Sub County said following the heavy rains that had been experienced in the area, farmers expect a bumper harvest that was unprecedented in years.
The CEC told farmers the county government was in talks with the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) on how the State can help in the purchase and storage of maize in the county to cushion the residents from unscrupulous middlemen.
In addition the officer advised the maize farmers to ensure they pack their produce in appropriate sacks to avoid them from contamination due to foul weather and pests that could destroy and render the crop unfit for human consumption.
According to the United Nations estimates, Kenya consumes about 46 million bags of maize every year and is the fifth largest consumer of the crop per person after Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
In 2017 alone, maize production in Kenya stood at 3.19 million tones but has been fluctuating due to adverse weather conditions thanks to effects of global climate change.
And to plug gap the huge the demand for the commodity, the country supplements local production by importing the deficit from the neighboring countries.
In July last year, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) reported that at least 2 million people in ASAL regions were facing an imminent food crisis following failed long rains.
Overall the number of people needing relief food increased from 1.6 million in May to 2 million in July last year, according to NDMA.
By Samuel Maina