The health risks posed by aflatoxins and microbial resistance in both human and animal health is far reaching, especially with regards to food handling processes right from production to the market.
It is against this back drop that the County Government of Kisumu in partnership with FAO and USAID have organized a three day Trainer of Trainees Workshop between 26th to 28th October 2021 to equip the government officers and value chain actors with the knowledge that will go along way in sensitizing more farmers and other value chain actors on food safety measures.
The forum which used the multi sectoral approach brought on board key stakeholders from both the government and private sectors drawn from disciplines such as Agriculture, Health, urban planning ,Trade and Marketing, food processing and farmers among other sectors.
Speaking while presiding over the official opening of the workshop, the CECM for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Gilchrist Okuom commended FAO and USAID for their support in organizing the training. The Trainers of Trainees will then be required to share the knowledge acquired with other stakeholders.
He underscored the fundamental right to food as transcribed in the 2010 Constitution, noting that the right keeps changing , initially it was based on food availability but today it is taking cognition of food safety from production to the market.
“If food is not safely produced from the onset, we lose the war and families incur hefty hospital bills due to diseases that emanate from the unsafe foods we consume, “said Mr. Okuom.
The County Executive Member reiterated that food production is key in ensuring food security, however farmers should be sensitized on how to produce safe food that is nutritious to the people.
He was certain that the forum would be interactive with rich ideas concerning food systems and the safety of the people, with focus on use of chemicals at the market by unscrupulous traders to prolong the shelf life of the food.
He also drew a comparison between food wastage and scarcity mentality where some people grabb more than they need, stating that it is an impediment to development which requires change of behavior and mind set.
According to the Chief Officer Agriculture and Irrigation, Dr. Paul Omanga, food safety ensures that food produced and handled pre and post harvest is safe for consumption. Non compliance to food safety measures he said can lead to poisoning the consumers
He further explained that personal hygiene forms an integral part in achieving food security and nutrition coupled with proper guidelines on food storage, preparations,and use of pesticides which can be poisonous to human life if precaution is not taken.
The Chief Officer for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Geoffrey Ochieng on his part stated how agriculture was formally regarded as a rural activity but today it is part and parcel of urban resilience and development.
Apart from training ToTs on aflatoxins and microbial resistance, Kisumu County has also partnered with FAO and USAID on food systems and food strategy document development and also on training Kibuye traders and Kibuye waste management group by providing traders with cold storage facilities and the waste management group in recycling waste to produce bricketts and vermiculture
The forum was also graced by a representative from FAO Kenya, Madam Rebecca Wanjiru who gave an overview of the Urban Food Systems Project.
The representative from USAID, Madam Beverly Shitandi also gave highlights on the Kenya Crops Dairy Markets Systems project.
By: Emily Mikwa