By HENRY OWINO
Kenya Government and the Ministry of Agriculture want to shift farmers out of agriculture by commercializing Kenya’s agriculture sector through a new agricultural policy, the agricultural sector transformation and growth strategy, 2019-2029.
This policy also seeks to increase the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers among Kenyan farmers. This is despite evidence from various research and publication s such as a white paper by Route to Food that some of the pesticides used in Kenya are harmful to human health and the environment.
If the policy is anything to go by, it would mean the Government is cutting the hand that feeds its citizens. This plan shift farmers out of farming.
“Commercializing 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 lead 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,” Nasike added.
As the world celebrates World Food Day on 16 October, 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 fertilisers and pesticides,” Nasike emphasized.
The World Food Day is celebrated in over 150 countries across the world, making it one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. The different events worldwide create awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all.
The focus of the day is to create awareness that food is a basic and fundamental human right.