By Winnie Kabintie
There is a worrying downward trend in food production in Kenya due to a combination of factors such as drop in yield per hectare, subdivision of agricultural land and weak support from stake holders on food security, a new study has revealed.
According to the findings of a NATIONAL RESEARCH ON THE CHANGE IN LAND USE AND FOOD SECURITY IN KENYA 2014; PREDICTIONS FROM THE FUTURE, changes in land use in the country could pose a major threat in food security in the future.
INCREASING PRESSURE ON AGRICULTURAL LAND
The study observes that there is increasing pressure on agricultural land due to population growth, changes in climate, infrastructure developments such as real estates (land classification by county governments) and competing profitability of different economic activities, which could have critical effect on food security as there is evidence of reduction on the acreage under food production in some parts of the country.
More than 50 percent of respondents sampled in the study recorded reductions in agricultural production and 83 percent had experienced at least an incidence of crop failure.
INSUFFICIENT GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
Farmers sampled in the study were of the opinion that there is ‘inadequate allocation of funding on agriculture at only 45 percent of the budget has been allocated to this sector.’
“Lack of political will in the country is a key aspect that is inhibiting the realisation of human rights and it’s even evident that politicians do not prioritise this issue, their absence in this conference explains it,” said George Morara, commissioner, KNHRC who was speaking during the National Conference On The Climate Change And Food Security held at the Catholic University Of East Africa on Friday and Saturday.
Among the politicians who were expected to speak during the conference but never showed up were Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and Kipchumba Murkomen, Senator, Elgweyo Marakwet.
Morara however acknowledged Senator Beatrice Elachi for introducing a ground breaking Bill, THE FOOD SECURITY BILL 2014, which was published in 6th May as it would go a long way in enhancing food security.
Farmers sampled in the study acknowledge at least receiving support from government in form of farm inputs (fertilisers and seeds) but the frequency differed across the country.
PREFERENCE FOR CEREALS
The majority of Kenyans are highly dependent on cereals for staple food, predominantly maize. Asked on foodstuffs that they would or not have, the majority of the respondents expressed their fondness for ugali (71.4%).
Well, ugali is Kenya’s staple food and that is not likely to change anytime soon as the respondents revealed that they cannot miss ugali in their menu for six consecutive months. This was followed by githeri (34.8%) milk (32.5%) rice 28.8 % and meat (27.1%).