KENYA – Kenya has witnessed a surge in the prevalence of severe food insecurity over the past six years, underscoring the challenges faced by its population in securing sufficient meals.
Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that the rate of food insecurity in the country has doubled, increasing from 15% between 2014-2016 to 28% between 2020-2022.
The 13-percentage point surge pushed Kenya’s level of food insecurity to the second-highest in the region, trailing behind South Sudan’s alarming rate of 63.2%.
According to the body, 14.8 million Kenyans suffered from severe food insecurity at the end of last year as a result of the erratic weather patterns and aftershocks of the pandemic.
“The uptick of hunger in 2022 stemmed from increasing inflation, followed by the upsurge in international commodity prices as well as domestic challenges such as persistently high levels of unemployment and vulnerability to shocks” the report noted.
“Additionally, food inflation and rising food import bills, coupled with extreme climate events, have exacerbated the situation.”
To address the issue, earlier this year, Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture initiated the development of a food security master plan, with a focus on enhancing food security, promoting value addition, and reducing post-harvest losses.
The plan emphasized irrigated agriculture and modern farming techniques, crucial for adapting to the effects of climate change.
The government also considered leasing parts of government-owned lands to milk processors to cultivate animal fodder, which will help reduce production costs for farmers and mitigate post-harvest losses.
In addition, the government aimed to focus on boosting agricultural productivity, reducing wastage, and enhancing food production through the use of advanced technologies, including Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs).
The goal was to improve the livelihoods of the estimated 38.5 million people in the country, many of whom suffer from chronic food insecurity and poor nutrition.
The implementation of these strategies sought to enhance food security and nutritional status, given that improved economic status alone is insufficient to ensure nutrition security.
The government also revealed plans to establish a clear strategy for reducing post-harvest losses, which have a significant impact on the available food supply.
The ultimate aim was to make food more accessible and affordable to all, reducing hunger and improving nutrition.
The government’s efforts to address the issue and its commitment to utilizing advanced technologies underscore the urgency and importance of achieving food security in the country.
Recently Resilience Ambassador Alliance for Science, Jackline Koin, emphasized that Kenya can benefit from technological advancements, particularly the implementation of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs), to enhance food production and achieve food security.