Guled Ahmed analyses food security in the horn of Africa and what COVID-19 has revealed about food security in the region. He portends that moving forward Government's must place emphasis on food security which will go along way in enhancing peace in the region.
For households which are going to be devastated by these economic realities, the government of Kenya needs to put in place adequate safety nets to assure food security and support food producers.
News reports claiming that “wet markets” in Asia are the source of the coronavirus obscure the fact that the consumption of wild animals is common in the West. How can the Western media condemn “unacceptable” animal consumption practices in the global South while maintaining studious silence on the same in the global North?
The lack of a focused policy since the 1990s has pushed the cashew nut sector into perennial decline. The sector’s disintegration started when the state-owned Kenya Cashewnut factory ollapsed in 1997 – a time when the political environment was not inclined to rescue a sector that had been a lifeline for thousands of Kenya’s coastal residents.
As the city turns hostile and Kenyans fearful of suffering hunger flee to the rural areas, COVID-19 has presented us with an opportunity to eliminate the colonial mentality that views the rural countryside as the segregated homeland of a silenced underclass and to renew the rural-urban relationship as a mutually beneficial support system.
With high levels of mobile phone and internet penetration, coupled with advanced digital technologies in the financial sector, Kenya has favourable conditions for cash transfers to the most vulnerable populations. However, corruption and lack of reliable data on beneficiaries can derail efforts to make all Kenyans food secure during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The majority of urban residents in Kenya cannot afford to go to established restaurants and eateries. To cater to their needs, food kiosks have sprouted in cities such as Nairobi. These kiosks not only serve delicious and nutritious food, they are also meeting places for the urban working class.
Rather than addressing food scarcity, genetically modified crops may render African farmers and scientists more, not less, reliant on global markets.
The disruption of national food supply chains due to COVID-19 lockdowns and curfews has negatively impacted market traders, but it has also spawned localised – and more resilient – supply chains that are filling the gap in the food system.
Small-scale farming accounts for roughly 75 per cent of the total agricultural output in Kenya. The future of food security in the country, therefore, lies in safeguarding small-scale farmers. However, Kenya’s agricultural policies are focused on cash crops and industrial agriculture. This has led to the food crisis we face today.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the global farm-to-plate conveyor belt, including related value chain and support industries. This has led to the overhaul of certain sectors and the expansion of others. On the upside, the disruption has also encouraged citizens to audit the resilience of their local food systems and their capacity to feed people over the long haul.
COVID-19 has had a huge and immediate negative economic impact on low-income households, especially in urban areas. The Kenyan government’s mediocre response to this economic shock has not only increased people’s vulnerability, but has also laid bare the government’s inability to provide basic services.
The #ToxicBusiness campaign commenced in August 2019, bringing the public's attention to a white paper published by the Route to Food Initiative (RTFI) titled, Pesticides in Kenya: Why our health, environment and food security are at stake. The findings highlight that 33% of the pesticide active ingredients registered for use in Kenya are withdrawn from the European market. It also highlights that there are products on the Kenyan market that are clearly classified as carcinogenic (45 products), mutagenic (31 products), endocrine disrupting (51) and neurotoxic (175) and many that show effects on reproduction (360).
Rising food prices in Kenya have an adverse effect on the country’s development as a whole.
PAUL GOLDSMITH explores the evolution of agriculture policies in Kenya that failed to recognise the importance of smallholder farming, which has proved to be more resilient than large-scale agriculture projects.
OYUNGA PALA mourns the loss of indigenous crops and farming methods that were buried by capitalist modes of production that focus mainly on high yields and profit.
The impression being created is that GMOs are about food security and survival, yet experience shows that they are more about the undisclosed interests of foreigners.
As more families in Kenya experience hardships brought about by austerity measures, Kenyan counties will experience varying levels of food insecurity that may lead to displacement and conflicts.
CHRISTINE MUNGAI travelled to western Kenya to meet farmers who had only good things to say about One Acre Fund’s activities in their communities, as the organization fills a gap created by the abandonment of smallholder farmers by government authorities. But more questions arise on how exactly the organization is able to circumvent the cartels that have gripped the sector, and on the structural inequalities that the company exploits and even exacerbates.
Food has never been about the simple act of eating; food is history, and identity. Hence, colonialism, as a violent process, fundamentally altered the way of life of a people, including their culinary habits.
DAUTI KAHURA travelled to speak to insiders in the coffee industry and long-suffering farmers, and discovered that the woes which have bedeviled the sector for decades continue to tighten their grip, to the point where Kenyan coffee might soon become a thing of the past.
Peoples are what they eat and the dietary consumption and what we choose to imbibe, or not consume based on habits, health, religion, or taboos symbolically reflect this dynamic.
The agriculture sector was one of the first to fully devolve service provision to the county governments, underscoring the importance of county governments' role in ensuring food security. ZEYNAB WANDATI travelled to Makueni, Nyeri, Busia and Bungoma to speak to farmers on how devolution was impacting the agricultural sector – and what she found was a mixed bag.
In the past decade, there has been a concerted effort to make farming “sexy” and lucrative. Mainstream media narratives have showcased farming as a “cool” profession that millennials can engage in either part-time or on a full time basis and still keep their urban lives. But are the technical as well technological tools that are now widespread in this industry enough to make agriculture a lucrative business, or are ‘remote farmers’ likely to be headed for heartbreak?