By George Okore
Kenyan students want their government to take urgent steps to safe-guard the country’s food security and protect consumers from the threats of a broken food system.
Youths from eight Kenyan universities, joined other stakeholders in celebrating today’s World Food Day (WFD), urged Kenyan government to putting in place policies that are aligned to ecological farming practices. The forum supported by Greenpeace Africa, called for improved policy to ensure smallholder farmers who constitute 30% of Kenya’s farming population, control the food chain and determine how food is produced.
Reene Olende – Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Food for Life Campaigner called for activities to raise awareness on food sovereignty and ecological farming that promotes resilience measures in response to climate change and empowers farmers especially those in rural settings.
“Kenya is grappling with the effects of climate change and the pressure to feed its people. The solution is for the government to support and enable a food sovereignty system that calls for a shift from Industrial agriculture to ecological farming,” she said.
Sustainably grown food is guaranteed through ecological farming, which combines indigenous knowledge, modern science and innovation with respect for nature and biodiversity. It ensures healthy farming and healthy food. It protects the soil, water and the climate. It does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or use genetically engineered organisms. It places people and farmers – consumers and producers, not corporations who control our food now – at its very heart.
Various speakers at the Forum under this year theme “Change the future of migration: investing in food security and rural development”, hailed the advantages of ecological agriculture. Joshua Oluyai from Kenyan Ministry of agriculture said organic agriculture has several health benefits and should be encouraged in the food consumption and value system benefits.
In 2016, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated that 233 million people in sub-Saharan Africa go to sleep hungry. By 2050, climate change and erratic weather patterns will have pushed another 24 million children into hunger. Almost half of these children would be in sub-Saharan Africa.
Winnie Kamau –an Organic Agriculture expert says the new faming method will help eliminate extreme poverty in Africa by 2025 besides ending hunger and malnutrition in Africa by 2025. This will make Africa a net food exporter in the global value chains where it has comparative advantage.
“The Kenya we want today and for tomorrow is one where we have informed consumption of our food. Food must not be viewed as a commodity for commercial exchange, but rather one that is a necessity in our lives. We demand a food system where all farmers and consumers benefit from the diversity of food grown sustainably, “said Phoebe Mwangi, a student from Technical University of Kenya participating in the debate.
“The way forward is building mitigation measures in response to climate change and establishing sustainable ways of farming that ensure food security not only for Kenyans but for Africa. The government must therefore act quickly to ensure that these patterns are averted and reversed,” says Daniel Maingi- an industrial agriculture expert.
The meeting called on Kenyan government to support ecological farming by providing indigenous seed to farmers, water for irrigation, training on modern and sustainable farming practices, refocus extension services and credit programmes. It was organized by Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE), Kenya Biodiversity Coalition (KBioC) and Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN).