Poor policies on eliminating hunger are aggravating the crisis, experts have warned.
The experts suggest more research and a review of existing policies if the country is to enhance its food security and effectively eliminate perennial famine.
This comes barely a week since Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri shocked Kenyans when he revealed that four million bags of maize at the state depots were unfit for human consumption.
Kiunjuri said the grains contained mycotoxins and fumonisin poisons that rendered them substandard, making the future unpredictable for majority of Kenyans.
Just before the CS’s revelations, grain millers had announced plans to hike the prices of maize flour from Sh75 to Sh100 per 2kg packet.
Already, many supermarkets across the country are selling the packet at above Sh75 even before the United Grains Millers Association announced the plan.
And now a team of experts from the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) believe the government and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector must quickly change tack for Kenyans to survive this scourge.
Kenya’s food security has been threatened by corruption and natural calamities such as droughts and floods that have often forced the government to import food from other countries to salvage its citizens from starving.
But AWARD exudes confidence that its platform would promote food security through research and innovation that have not received much attention in the past.
The organisation’s chairperson, Nora Ndege, farmers have always incurred losses due to inadequate research that led to formulation of poor policies on food security and nutrition.
“There is no sufficient evidence-based research to inform county and country policies on agricultural processes,” Ndege said.
She said the platform will bring all stakeholders in the food industry on board and will involve exchanging ideas and devising the best approaches to minimise losses and increase food production.
The platform will also call for research combining indigenous and innovative ways that encourage women to excel in farming. It will also help women to access markets for their produce and value-added products.
AWARD has already initiated plans to launch Kenya’s first Ribena juice, one of its innovations.
Ndege said national and county governments should engage farmers and other stakeholders in addressing food security.
“We need to strengthen mutually beneficial linkages between value chain actors and remove structural and policy barriers through systematic evidence-based research repository,” she said.