Budget policies fail food and nutrition security
Food securityBudget policies are silent on investments that go beyond the large-scale production of staples, towards supporting food diversity and indigenous food crops that are climate-resilient and nutritionally rich.The National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (NFNSP 2012) recognises that most Kenyans still subsist on diets based on staple crops (mainly maize) that are lacking in nutritional diversity and have particularly devastating consequences on child development. Food security therefore encompasses availability of adequate quantities diverse food commodities such as other cereals, fruits, vegetables and animal products. In the NFNSP (2012), the Government commits to promote the production of nutrient-rich foods (crops, livestock, fisheries) through food diversification. Despite recognising the importance of knowledge and education, budget policies are silent on the question of extension services. Extension services are a critical mechanism for information dissemination and capacity building to small-scale farmers.
Economic growthIronically, an agro-ecological approach to farming (which relies on using and re-using locally available natural resources) is rather akin to the fiscal consolidation plan that Treasury has emphasized in the BPS. That is to say that State Ministries, Departments and Agencies will have to adopt the culture of doing more with less that is available to promote sustainability and affordability. Despite rising food safety concerns in the country and prioritization on environmental conservation as a “Big Four” enabler for broad-based sustainable economic growth, the widespread use of chemical pesticides and regulation thereof, is not addressed in fiscal policies. An estimated 32 per cent of pesticides banned in Europe are used in Kenya. A proposal to address this would be to levy environmental taxes on chemical pesticides on the basis of their toxicity to the environment (land, water, air), human and animal health. This would mobilize fiscal revenues while mitigating the negative effects associated with pesticide application and encourage a shift towards environmentally and ecologically friendly agricultural systems. As our parliamentarians go into the phase of budget review and debate, we call on them to make proposals and amendments to the country’s fiscal policy that favors small-scale farmers, keeping in mind that their first and foremost responsibility is to progressively work towards the realisation of the Constitutional Right to Food.
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