By; Emily Mikwa
Today the County Department of Agriculture in Partnership the University of Nairobi and Mazingira Institute under the project AgriFoSe2030 organized a day’s workshop to give feedback and also get the views of the stakeholders dealing in Indigenous Vegetable value chain in a bid to focus on areas that deserve attention and try to address the needs.
The workshop was timely now that the team had done the needs assessment to understand the needs of the stakeholders and are now ready to get the feedback from the stakeholders that would inform the next direction, which is preparation of a training manual that outlines best production practices, value addition, food safety and preparations of the indigenous vegetables.
“The manual will also be a useful tool in training farmers, traders in ensuring increased productivity of indigenous vegetables and addressing food safety”. Said Dr. Samuel Omondi of Nairobi University
AgriFoSe 2030 is a two-year project 2021/2022, being carried out in both Kisumu and Nakuru counties. It focuses on governance of food systems and it targets three key stakeholders: small- holder farmers, small scale traders and extension workers within the African Indigenous Vegetables (Osuga- black night shade, Akeyo- Spider weed and Mrenda) taking the systems approach.
Further the project does not only look at the best production practices but also marketing, value addition, food safety and waste management. Additionally, it is pegged on the theory of change where mapping of activities is expected to bring change to the targeted actors who will in the long run have improved capacities to engage better in production and also involve in governance of food systems at the county level. This will eventually lead to better nutrition, food security and income within Kisumu County.
While presiding over the official opening of the workshop, the Chief Officer for Agriculture and Irrigation Dr. Omanga thanked the AgriFoSe 2030 team for the commendable work they are undertaking in the county to improve productivity and safety of the indigenous vegetables.
He highlighted that the focus should be directed to three main areas; addressing the issue of increased production that meets the market demands, on governance- how to coordinate the value chain activities of the indigenous vegetables to ensure market demands are met and also the issue of waste management to avoid losses.
He however challenged actors present in the workshop to investigate themselves concerning their roles on improvement of food systems in Kisumu to ensure food security.
He reiterated that the role of the County Government and the Development Partners is to create an enabling environment for value chain actors to thrive.
Concerning Actors in the food systems, Mr. Samuel Ikua of mazingira Institute explained the complementary roles of all the actors in the value chain which was depicted in the food system mechanism diagram.
Professor Cecelia Onyango of Nairobi University underscored the significance of promoting indigenous vegetables that have high nutrients, less inputs, the high returns, and its contribution to urban and peri urban food security.
She cautioned the actors that handling of the vegetables will determine the value and advised that following proper ways in production is key.
Proper quantities of manure whether organic or inorganic is important in determining the concentration of nitrates on the plant leaves. “There is need to improve yield but maintain the quality and sustain the environment”. Said Professor Cecelia.
She challenged the participants on ensuring availability of quality seeds that produce safe vegetables which she said can be done through informal seed sharing in order to retain the original quality.
The production and handling practice she said are major threats changing the taste of vegetables. Knowing the condition of the soil in terms of heavy metals, pests and nitrogen concentration are major concerns in promoting food security and income.
According to Madam Winnie, a health practitioner, consuming vegetables as green as they are providing enough nutrients hence the communities should be sensitized targeting different population on the different cooking methods and how they impact on the food nutrients.
Professor Samuel Owuor from the University of Nairobi, gave highlights on the perspectives of urban food systems governance, challenging the actors to be at the center stage of sharing ideas and minimizing the risks to get what they need.
He outlined some of the developments that are realized out of urban food governance such as food availability, affordability, diversity, safety. Health and nutrition among others, while the urban food systems governance he said improves household incomes, food security, urban food environment and consumer outlets.
Dr. Samuel Omondi of Nairobi University in his closing remarks outlined the next activities to be scheduled such as convening a consultative meeting with the County government, conducting project awareness meeting with the small- holder farmers and the small scale traders. Plans are also in place to train stakeholders on food systems governance and conduct a food value chain study.