By: Emily Mikwa
The Kisumu County Food System Strategy has been launched and awaiting its implementation.
The launch that took place at the Sarova Imperial Hotel in Kisumu also saw the first of its Kind; the County Agri- Nutrition Strategy 2023/27 launched.
The two strategies: Kisumu County Food Systems Strategy and the County Agri- Nutrion Strategy are interconnected in the sense that they provide frameworks on how the county can be food secure and also reduce malnutrition among its residents.
Coming from a background where 71.3% of the county residents are food insecure resulting from lack of diversification of food production, poor diets due to low uptake of new farming technologies, limited access to credit facilities, high costs of farm inputs, unregulated market systems among others, the initiatives were mooted by the development partners to put in place strategies that are efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
While presiding over the official launch of the two strategies, the First lady, Dorothy Nyong’o commended the development partners FAO, GIZ, USAID, Practical Action, Maseno University for their support in realizing the same, and the multisectoral approach that went into the production of the strategies.
She encouraged the people to remain committed unto its urgency in implementation.
Raising concern on the alarming percentage of those who are food insecure, Mama County also added that there is a high percentage of malnourished people hence, she is optimistic that the implementation of the strategies will make a fundamental difference in the lives of the people.
The fact that Kibuye market of late is supplied by vegetables grown in Kisumu, Mama County said it was a step in the right direction, saying that Kisumu can become the food basket for the LREB region and even spill over to Kenya and Tanzania markets.
Concerning urban farming, she reiterated that her experience with her cancer foundation, was that some patients had started dropping out of treatment due to lack of food, and when she introduced the cone gardening to the cancer patients as a nutrition champion with the assistance of the agriculture department, in three years she has realized a tremendous change in the lives of the patients, they are no longer bed ridden and they attend their chemotherapy regularly.
She called on the implementers of the strategies to tap into the resourceful community health promoters who would act as a natural link between them and the community. This she said would give them a seamless implementation of their activities within the community.
Mama County noted with appreciation the innovative initiatives showcased by the exhibitors. She was pleased by the fact that they are youths and women, hence she urged them to rope in the rest in doing farming.
According to the CECM Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Hon. Kenn Onyango, the Food Systems Strategy encompasses arrange of actors with interlinked activities such as production, aggregation, processing distribution, consumption and disposal.
He said the strategy is anchored on the policy hence it will help in enacting relevant laws concerning food systems. Such would include: increase of affordable farm inputs, provision of climate smart agriculture and resilient adaptations, Development and expansion of physical infrastructure, market digitization and improved behavioral practices related to dietary intake among others.
Hon. Onyango indicated that plans are in place with the development partners to adopt E- Voucher systems to lower the cost of farm inputs.
The FAO – Kenya Deputy Country Representative, Mr. Hamisi Williams was impressed that as the Urban food Systems project is coming to a close, Kisumu County has launched the strategy as away of taking the initiative forward for implementation.
Mr. Hamisi further underscored the need to action the strategy saying, “A vision without action is a day dream, action without a strategy is a nightmare”. He added that a plan in place to implement Agri- nutrition is crucial, recalling on the FAO’s strategy framework that is in tandem with the global strategy which defines Agri- food systems with the key words: efficient, inclusive, sustainable, resilient which he said is well captured in the developed strategy.
He further highlighted on expected realization during the implementation. These include: better production, better environment by being cognizant of practices that takes care of the environment for sustainable development, better nutrition for better lives and better farmers who have good linkages for their produce leaving no one behind.
On His part, Mr. Tim Mwangi from Practical Action said he was happy with the launch of the food systems strategy recalling that it has been a journey.
Mr. Mwangi alluded that food systems is a complex situation hence requires a multi sectoral approach. He added that the holistic approach gives priorities where different development partners can plug in to support the County.
He said his organization is happy to be associated with the initiative where different disciplines come together to solve an issue and that they look forward for its earnest implementation.