By: Emily Mikwa
The CECM for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Hon. Kenn Onyango in the Company of the Chief Officer, Mr. John Likoko and the Fisheries Director Susan Adhiambo yesterday graced the closeout meeting on the intergraded actions for innovative food systems across rural urban communities project held by FAO at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi.
The closeout meeting brought on board officials from Kisumu County and Nairobi County who were implementing the project, Nakuru County ,Mombasa County, Representatives from National Government, FAO and Italian Agency for Development Cooperation to review the achievements, impacts, challenges and gaps that needs to be looked into moving forward.
Taking cognizance of the rising urbanization dynamics of production due to rural urban migration coupled with changes in food demands in urban areas, FAO developed the urban food agenda framework which provides guidelines in addressing the food and nutrition security challenges for the urban population as means to contributing to food system transformation.
To enhance this agenda and build value networks using the food system approach, Kisumu and Nairobi cities with the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation(AICS) through FAO has been implementing the project dubbed Integrated actions for innovative food system across rural urban communities which commenced in 2019 and ended in April 2023.
The overall goal of this project was to support the responsible local authorities and communities to implement innovative actions that will ensure sustainability, inclusivity and resilience in urban food systems by strengthening rural- urban linkages.
Speaking during the meeting, Hon. Kenn Onyango, thanked FAO for the partnership and support throughout the process of implementing the urban food systems project in Kisumu since 2019.
He reiterated that Kisumu takes pride on both rural and urban endowment with infrastructure, water and good soil that form the foundation on which residents rely on to ensure food security. Kisumu is also a gateway to most East and Central African states, hence the strategic location makes it ideal for marketing produce if properly utilized.
The CECM further stated that the County department of agriculture offers extension services, creating enabling business environment and policy guidelines to agriculture sector players with a goal of achieving food commercially oriented food secure county.
He underscored the food systems approach initiated by FAO has created a new thinking aimed at generating a city where people access healthy diet produced in a sustainable way.
The development of the Kisumu County Food Systems Strategy he noted is crucial for prioritization in allocation of resources in the food systems interventions with the help of development partners in its implementation.
The project he said has offered employment opportunities to youths and women such as the aquaculture barn and Modesh bakers. The provision of irrigation, transport and kitchen equipment he said has empowered the value chain actors by improving their scale of operations and market access to the beneficiaries.
Through capacity building of farmers and value chain actors he noted has led to the uptake of best practices of new innovations in agriculture production such as kitchen gardens that improve food security.
Hon. Onyango called on Food Liaison Advisory Council of Kisumu (FLACK) to remain active in enhancing a multi stakeholder collaborations and coordination in implementing the food systems strategy related interventions to upscale the successes gained to transform livelihoods.
The FAO- Kenya, Ambassador Carla Mucavi Thanked all partners for their involvement in the implementation process of the project. She thanked the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation represented by Luigi Luminari for funding the project. She also thanked the implementing counties, Kisumu and Nairobi for their commitment to the process.
Carla noted that urbanization is here with us hence the food agenda is critical even with the little spaces she urged that the cities can be transformed. She expressed her strong belief and desire to see the cities transform and become the hub of nutrition and food security for the members of the community.
Mr. Luigi on his part applauded the implementing County Governments for mainstreaming the food systems agenda in the government processes.
He emphasized the need for the initiative of greening cities, since the environmental aspects are key in contributing to reduction of pollution and greenhouse gases. Such initiatives he said contributes to income of the people and improve environment of cities.
The ideas of multi sectoral plans in food systems he advised should be entrenched in schools to produce food for children.
For the value chain actors he urged that they should be linked to financial markets to get credits for production now that Kenya is currently spearheading the development of SMEs.
While closing the meeting, the County Chief Officer for Kisumu, Mr. John Likoko, said the project provided a learning session in strengthening the food supply chain. He added that its implementation came in handy based on the outputs and outcomes demonstrated on exhibitions by the youth and women.
Mr. Likoko advocated for the use of digital space in scaling up activities that maximize urban food production. He also noted that some of the activities should be entrenched in the CIDPs and run with the low lying fruits such as initiating the food systems course in the learning institutions.
He applauded the beneficiaries for making it to a level through the support by FAO and urged them to propel themselves to another level.
The meeting provided a platform for the beneficiaries to showcase their innovations and new technologies on food systems. These included value addition, urban and peri urban agriculture and waste management strategies.