Kenya seeks to address food challenges through transformative strategies

Food safety

Dr Jim Woodhill, Lead, Foresight4Food, Wangeci Gitata-Kiriga, the FoSTr country facilitator in Kenya and Dr Mary Mwale, Food Security Specialty from the Ministry of Agriculture, review some of the data during the 2-day workshop in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Kevin Cheruiyot | Nation Media Group

The Ministry of Agriculture is seeking to address future food system challenges through transformative strategies as crop yields continue to decline in the face of a growing population.

According to the ministry, Kenya relies heavily on smallholder farmers, who contribute 70 per cent of the food supply.

Statistics from the ministry show that there is an annual crop yield deficit of between 20 and 40 per cent, which is why Kenya has become increasingly dependent on imports to meet its food needs.

Speaking at a recent Foresight for Food System Transformation (FoSTr) workshop, Ministry of Agriculture's Food Security Specialist,  Mary Mwale, said transformation is critical in achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals.

The service, which brought together key stakeholders from across the food system to address Kenya's pressing food security challenge, was held in Nairobi from June 19 to 20.

First Secretary for Food and Water Security at the Embassy of Netherlands, Pim van der Male, said during the workshop that foresight is thinking about the future to improve decision-making today.

"Foresight analysis can make a significant contribution to building greater resilience in food security for the people who need it most. Foresight is thinking about the future to improve decision-making today," said Mr van der Male.

IFAD Country Director Mariatu Kamara said Kenya was moving towards a proactive approach to address the pressing issue of food security.

She stated that the rising costs of fuel and fertilizers have contributed to an increase in food prices, making it increasingly difficult for many Kenyans to afford a healthy diet.

“Shockingly, 36 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line, and a quarter of children suffer from malnutrition. Furthermore, the country has experienced its fifth drought cycle, underscoring the urgency of shifting from reactive to proactive measures.” Ms Kamara said.

During the workshop, the FoSTr country facilitator in Kenya Wangeci Gitata-Kiriga explained the objectives of the workshop, which included contextualizing the FoSTr initiative, coordinating with stakeholders working on food systems, and initiating the foresight process for food system transformation within Kenya.

The workshop served as a platform to share the purpose of the program in Kenya, foster coordination with stakeholders, and kick-start the foresight process for food system transformation within the country.

Through financing from the Netherlands through IFAD, FoSTr provides an essential decision-support mechanism through scenarios and foresight analysis.