Written by Joseph Odongo
Food insecurity has been blamed on poor food policies in Kenya as more emphasis is put on export which is produced by commercial farmers and ignoring food for local consumption produced by smallholder framers.
To help solve the problem, Non state actors (NSAs) have resolved to empower the local smallholder farmers in Kenya to increase production in order to fight food insecurity in the country.
In a three day forum held in Nairobi from November 8-10 that brought together civil society, private sector and nongovernmental organization, the private sector player said linking smallholders’ farmer to the market will boost production of food products as most of them are faced with challenges of reaching the adequate thus opting not to get involved in production.
This will be supported by providing market information as this will enable the farmers to be able to know what to produce and proper market timing it will also involve availability, developing and promoting commodity grades in order to produce quality products.
According to Michael G. Ojiambo general secretary Kenya Freedom from Hunger Council, in order to reduce poverty level, civil society has been given the in depth of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP) in practice and how to work with the poor famers since 70% of food in Kenya is produced by small scale farmers.
His sentiments were echoed by Alex Gathii a dairy hub co-coordinator who said only 20% of milk produced in the country is processed while the remaining 80% is held by small scale farmers.
He urged that milk should be included in the national food reserve as there is a looming milk glut thereby challenging all relevant parties to get involved.
The private sector is putting in place a warehouse receipt system that will ensure accountability on part of the farmers.
With the devolution system in Kenya, a plan to develop and promote commodity exchange system at least one at county level and this will be done in tune of $2million.This will include developing a physical market infrastructure within the next 18months.Development of road, communication networks and improving roads in rural areas which are the core of food production in Kenya.
Cartels have been cited as a setback in the project since they are blocking the development of markets in rich agriculture areas in Kenya.
Farmers have also been advised to join the cooperative sector. “Smallholder farmers need to work together in cooperatives in order to maximize production and fight exploitation,” Mary Munene value chain coordinator Kenya dairy sector cooperativeness programme said.
She added that it is the best way that farmers will get value for their money as some farmers leases there land for as less as $2 per year.
In addition the transactions are done in an illegal way and not in the interest of the community. They challenged the local farmers to step forward in agricultural production as they have the potential in food production.