By David Wanjala
Lately, there has been a major burden in some counties with unpleasant scenarios. Children but also cattle, sheep and goats are dying because of drought and starvation making Kenya look bad. When Kenya experienced heavy floods in 2013, the government set aside 1.6 billion to help victims cope up with the situation. Back then, Nyahururu, Marsabit, Isiolo and Tana River Delta region were the most affected areas.
But why is it that in any event that there is a crisis like shortage of food and water like now some Kenyans are suffering to the brink of fear? Why do we still have food security bottlenecks in this era? And why is it that the cycle keeps repeating year in year out?
Whenever stories of drought and hunger from Turkana are told, for example, we sit on the edge of the seats, asking many questions a time when the country’s economy is said to be strong enough, and can help save such situations. Things are seemingly getting tough, and the effect of food security is waning so much that it is time to change the conversation. Perhaps, it is time we consider how other countries are going about it.
Least developing countries depend mainly on smallholder players; once the guy in the village is empowered, the reason to invest in horticulture should just flow. It should not be like a game of chase whereby when things fall apart and the centre cannot hold is when people start looking at things that were not done.
Firstly, a major overhaul as far as food security is handled could be what Kenya needs. The country will go far when this is followed by strong systems and introduction of innovative technologies aimed at ensuring that there is sustainable food production.
Secondly, apart from improvement of crop protection while reducing post-harvest losses, which affect many farmers, what can be done is implementation of irrigation strategies, which are efficient. Creating sustainable production of livestock should also appear on the cards.
Thirdly, value chain is another area not to be ignored. It is not until when everything is done according to plan right from harvesting of crop to processing, to distribution and consumption, will the instability and volatile food prices be dealt with. And participation should be inclusive. Commitment must come from the side of public institutions, non-governmental organizations as well as individuals.
The moment we embarked on working together to build a strong food sector – building human capacity while strengthening institutional framework – is when we will propel economic growth. Issues of food should not be like a game of chase. It is time money was devolved to counties that are always affected in good time instead of waiting for things to get out of hand. Once all these are right, and there is commitment we will achieve food security.