Hopes for food security and climate change resilience renewed.
- Agroecology has established itself as a practice that builds on key elements to promote and ensure healthy, nutritious food while conserving the environment. It is the most viable approach to food security and attainment of the Right to Food for all.
Nairobi, September 6, 2020 – Faced with increased erratic climate patterns, depleted soil nutrients and a growing number of food insecure people, there is an urgent need to reconsider how we produce our foods.
Statistics show 14.5 million Kenyans are food insecure. The number of acutely food-insecure people in need of emergency food assistance has also increased throughout 2019 from an estimated 1.1 million in February to 1.6 million in May and 2.6 million by July.
With the situation continuing to present major challenges to Kenyans, there is need to re-think how we approach food and farming in the country. Agroecology, has established itself in the scientific and political debate as a way to ensure food security, maintain healthy ecosystems and support livelihoods. The practice builds on key elements that promote and ensure healthy nutritious food for all.
Addressing the media during a virtual workshop, organised by the Route to Food Initiative (RTFI), Dr. David Amudavi, Executive Director, Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) and Project Coordinator of the African Union-led Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative (EOA-I) said in order to respond to climate change, declining biodiversity and poor soil quality, there is need for application of agroecological principles and practices so as to strengthen farmers’ resilience and enhance food production.
He further explained agroecology is a consciousness that we are part of a life support system with nature, and that our life depends on this system. Effects of climate change such as droughts, floods, irregular rainy seasons among others continue to pose problems for farmers threatening food security in the country. “Since agroecology is a scientific discipline, a farming practice and a social movement, it can build on farmers’ and consumers’ knowledge in establishing sustainable agricultural development. What is needed is appropriate enabling anchoring policy, investment plans and programmes” Dr. David Amudavi added.
Layla Liebetrau, Project Lead of the Route to Food Initiative, an alliance of men and women, working towards the realisation of the human right to food in Kenya (www.routetofood.org), explained that there is now a growing concern to embrace forms of food production that are local-specific, affordable, sustainable and safe to our health and that of the environment.
“There is growing evidence of success in using agroecology as a holistic approach to farming. Currently, projects in the country following this approach have proven to increase farm productivity, enhance livelihoods for smallholder farmers and build strong local food systems,” she added.
Morris Kirimi, Director at Caritas Meru, emphasized on the need for formulating policy frameworks that mainstream agroecology. “Policy advocacy for agroecology works effectively when it comprises collaborations between farmers, the national and county governments and the public. Effective advocacy can help to generate public support for agroecology. However, this must be informed by successful agroecological practices and supported by research. Meru County have already developed a policy in partnership with Caritas Meru and Biovision Foundation which is due for public participation.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Biovision Foundation, with contributions from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), published a study titled “The Potential of Agroecology to Build Climate-resilient Livelihoods and Food Systems” in August, 2020 that focuses on sub-Saharan Africa. The study shows that using agroecological methods increases the ability to adapt to climate change perturbations and contributes to climate protection. The study also shows in which direction food systems can be developed to be better equipped to deal with climate change effects.
The study, which focused on Kenya and Senegal, states that there are opportunities to embed agroecological approaches into existing policies. “Further efforts to provide evidence, training and policy guidance for agroecology would need to be matched with increased levels of public and private investment and financial support,” recommends the study.
Notably, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF) in collaboration with GIZ has launched an Intersectoral Forum on Agrobiodiversity and Agroecology (ISFAA) that brings together different government sectors, civil society, private sector and academia. Through various thematic working groups, the ISFAA seeks to mainstream agroecology in policy discussions and programs in the agriculture and environment sectors. The jury is out on whether the Kenyan government’s commitment to sustainable development, will bring us food security and environmental integrity.
- Route to Food Initiative Media Workshop, September 2020 – Audio
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, May 2020 – Agroecology Factsheet.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Biovision Foundation, with contributions from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), August 2020 – The potential of agroecology to build climate-resilient livelihoods and food systems (Report).
- Civil Eats, August 2020 – US Groups Invest Billions in Industrial Ag in Africa. Experts Say It’s not Ending Hunger or Helping Farmers (Article).
- The Swiss National FAO Committee (CNS-FAO), February 2019 – Agroecology as a means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
- Biovision Africa Trust (Link).
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