Forum seeks new strategies to boost food systems

Jim Woodhill (left), Wangeci Gitata-Kiriga and Mary Mwale review data during the Foresight for Food System Transformation workshop in Nairobi. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Kenya heavily relies on smallholder farmers, who contribute 70 per cent of the country's food supply. However, crop yields have consistently fallen below population requirements, resulting in an annual deficit ranging from 20 to 40 per cent.

This has seen Kenya increasingly depending on imports to meet its food needs. At the Foresight for Food System Transformation (FoSTr) workshop in Nairobi this week, stakeholders from across the food system, discussed pressing issues affecting food security.

Recognising the significance of food systems transformation, Dr Mary Mwale, a food security expert from the Ministry of Agriculture, said this transformation is crucial for achieving sustainable development goals.

The workshop commenced with remarks from various stakeholders, highlighting importance of foresight analysis in building resilience and improving decision-making processes.

Pim van der Male, First Secretary of Food and Water Security at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands said time has come to involve foresight analysis. "Foresight analysis can significantly help build stronger resilience in food security for people who need it the most. Foresight is thinking about the future to improve decision-making today," he said.

IFAD Country Director Mariatu Kamara said Kenya is currently transitioning towards a proactive approach to tackling food security. "Shockingly, 36 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line, and a quarter of children suffer from malnutrition. Furthermore, the country has experienced its fifth drought cycle, underscoring the urgency of shifting from reactive to proactive measures," said Ms Kamara.

The FoSTr workshop served as a platform to share insights and foster coordination with stakeholders, and kick-start the foresight process for food system transformation.

With financing from the Kingdom of the Netherlands through IFAD, FoSTr provides an essential decision-support mechanism through scenarios and foresight analysis. This contributes to decision-makers and key stakeholders in the food system. The programme is implemented by the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, Wageningen University & Research, and key partners in the international Foresight4Food network.

Wangeci Gitata-Kiriga, the FoSTr country facilitator in Kenya, said they are coordinating with stakeholders on food systems and initiating the foresight process.