Plans by Kenya’s government to commercialize the agricultural sector has irked civil society groups even as the country marked World Food Day.
Through a new agricultural policy, the agricultural sector transformation and growth strategy (2019 – 2029), the government seeks to increase the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers among Kenyan farmers. This is despite evidence from a white paper by Route to Food that some of the pesticides used in Kenya are harmful to human health and the environment.
“Commercialising Kenya’s agricultural systems will not only reduce the resilience of local communities to produce more food but also increase the contamination of our natural resources by chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” said Claire Nasike, Greenpeace Africa’s Campaigner.
The use of fertilizers and pesticides not only leads to the persistence of these harmful chemicals in our food and the environment but also the loss of biodiversity. This poses a threat to the entire ecological system upon which food production depends on.
“The vulnerability of Kenya’s food system has been exposed through the COVID-19 pandemic. The government needs to tap into the local resilience of smallholder farmers who produce more than 75% of the food consumed in the country, to build greater resilience into Kenya’s food system,” continued Nasike.
As the world celebrates World Food Day under the theme grow, nourish, sustain, together, there is a call on the need for future food systems to provide affordable healthy diets and decent livelihoods for all, while preserving natural resources and biodiversity.
“The Ministry of Agriculture should formulate policies that enable farmers to grow more food sustainably and ensure Kenyans are well nourished by healthy, diverse, and safe food. Such efforts will increase farmers’ income, build resilience and break the endless debt cycles caused by over dependency on large quantities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” said Nasike.