Enhance 4K Club policy for better food systems

Ithenguri Primary School

Ithenguri Primary School pupils learn how to make kitchen gardens on September 25, 2019. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

As Kenya strives to eliminate poverty and ensure access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, it is important to enlighten children on food and nutritional security so that as they grow up, they will not depart from it.

That is why I find the return of the 4K Club policy timely.

In the 1980s and 1990s, this policy served to encourage the youth to engage in agriculture.

The club’s motto of Kuungana, Kufanya, Kusaidia Kenya (coming together and acting to help Kenya) stands out as a clarion call for pure patriotism.

With the global theme of building resilience through hope in the just-ended 76th session of the United Nation General Assembly, reintroduction of the 4K clubs is a novel idea, especially in efforts to change attitudes towards the agri-food sector.

The clubs will be a crucial platform to nurture food security-conscious citizens.

Given the new understanding of food security as an interconnection of different determinants, revitalising the clubs to enhance food, agriculture and nutrition knowledge is noble.

Advancements in ICT will improve food production.

This is critical, as research shows that the average age of a farmer in Kenya is 60 years.

Further, nutritional education will spur healthy living, at a time of a huge health burden occasioned by unhealthy foods.

Good food is one of the critical elements in the development of human capital.

However, the success of the 4K clubs will depend on the food systems governance.

We are a few months after the general election, after which the new government came up with new policies.

There is a need to establish a strong foundation for this programme.

The best way to ensure the 4K clubs survive beyond the current administration is through institutionalisation.

For instance, implementation of the programme could be made mandatory, as opposed to the current voluntary nature.

In addition, reviewing the curriculum of the teachers training colleges to build capacity is vital.

A review of land policies would be another critical plank for successful implementation.

With the rapidly increasing population, there is a need to consider aggregation of land adjacent to schools. This would offer more land for the project.

Innovative financing mechanisms must be identified to fund the programme.

Besides government support, effort must be made to raise resources from various partners, especially the ones that pledged during the UNFSS summit.

Use of technology could also boost the initiative in urban schools where land is scarce. The kitchen garden concept and vertical farming would be a good place to start.

Tobias Osano Otieno, Kisumu