Journey to food security

Christian impact mission director Titus Masika training youths from Kacheliba constituency on modern farming methods at Yatta.
Christian impact mission director Titus Masika training youths from Kacheliba constituency on modern farming methods at Yatta.

Kenya, an emerging economy, has an uphill task in implementing much-needed agrarian reforms and ensuring food security for her citizens.

The issue is a core feature in catalysing economic growth, and is a principal constituent in perpetrating judicious governance. Indeed, there would not be a better time than now to provide impetus to the concern of food security.

The prevalent global financial crisis has constrained the availability of capital at a time when greater investment is urgently needed in the agriculture segment. World economies continue to opt for alternative capital ventures in a bid to achieve greater per capita income in favour of per capita calorie consumption. It is justified to infer that economic success should not be defined by the price of food but by the provision of adequate and nutritious food for the people.

The international capital markets are closely monitoring the economic recovery of East Africa’s economic powerhouse. They are also keenly observing the implementation of the four-pronged development agenda, which include food and nutrition security.

Advocating a transparent process in the disbursement of public funds and adoption of ingenious communication strategies to educate stakeholders would give leeway to engineering effective execution of food security programmes. Additionally, a sensitive approach to nepotism would help insulate the Big Four Agenda from internal and external forces that may be inclined to hinder, if not topple, the development apple cart. Such measures would help cover lost ground and bring around consumer and corporate confidence by the end of the fiscal year.

Kenya has embarked on pursuing ‘agropreneurship’, a hybrid word that is implicit in the concept of environmental and people-friendly entrepreneurship. It is such audacious commitments that attract innovative financial mechanisms that help accelerate green growth.

An agrarian country such as India switched over to the modern system of production and worked on structural change, which resulted in the advent of the green revolution in the 1970s. This made the country a food-grain surplus nation from a food deficit nation.

Agricultural and food market analysis highlight “the mechanisms for positive produce and economic gains that are product specific.” This calls for both government and non-government stakeholders to identify and facilitate ideal market conditions for each agro product. They should also classify whether contract engagement or cooperative agreement would encourage favourable yields and supplement household incomes from different products.

The big ticket initiative of food security that has become a hashtag of sorts can be achieved through multifaceted inclusive development. The launch of the National Youth Service Tuko Tayari campaign signals the start of reclaiming thousands of acres of stolen arable public land if not the clinical eradication of the hacienda class.

An exemplary illustration that can be replicated is the agro-friendly restructuring and extensive provision of adequate technology and financial support by the state that prompted the steep increase in share of land tilled by small household farmers in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan during the mid-20th Century.

New markets for exotic produce have burgeoned due to the availability of basic agricultural input. The subsequent leap in sugar and rice yields has triggered the reversal of income inequality and lessened dependence on food imports. Overall, farming has powered East Asia’s economic miracle. Kenya’s challenge is in harnessing opportunities to make efficient use of its abundant natural resources.

Communication consultant and commentator on economic and social issues