As we celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity under the theme “Be Part of the Plan,” it is a call to action for all stakeholders to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity. This theme resonates deeply with the ongoing efforts across the African continent, particularly in Kenya, where food systems and biodiversity are linked. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 is a testament to the country’s commitment to addressing these pressing issues. Food and Land Use coalition (FOLU) members are collaborating to be part of this plan, working towards a sustainable future where biodiversity thrives.

Jeremiah Rogito, FOLU Lead Kenya

Kenya has faced numerous challenges over the past years, from global food price surges to local crises enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts. These challenges have highlighted the urgent need to reexamine and transform Kenyan food systems. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 aims to address these issues by integrating biodiversity conservation into food production and land use strategies.

Biodiversity ensures the resilience of ecosystems, which are fundamental for sustainable agriculture and food production. In Kenya for example, agriculture contributes 22.7 percent directly to the GDP and 33.8 percent to the broader food system, employing over 43.3 percent of the total population and more than 70 percent of rural people. Transforming this system for better nutrition and health requires a paradigm shift that balances agricultural productivity with the responsibility of ensuring better nutrition and health for all Kenyans.

AGRA and the Food and Land Use (FOLU) Coalition are key players in Kenya’s strategy to integrate biodiversity into food systems. Their collaborative efforts focus on boosting nature-positive production, advancing equitable livelihoods, and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stresses. AGRA’s initiatives include supporting smallholder farmers with resources and training to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. These practices enhance soil health, conserve water, and promote crop diversity, which are essential for maintaining biodiversity. AGRA also works on improving market access for farmers, ensuring they receive fair prices for their produce, thereby promoting economic stability and reducing the pressure on natural resources.

The FOLU Coalition complements these efforts by providing a platform for multi-stakeholder collaboration. FOLU members include governments, NGOs, and private sector partners, all working together to create sustainable food systems. Their projects emphasize the importance of policy coherence, innovative financing, and the integration of indigenous knowledge in conservation efforts. This holistic approach ensures that biodiversity conservation is embedded in all aspects of food production and land use planning.

Despite these efforts, significant challenges remain. Rapid urbanization, population growth, and climate change are exerting immense pressure on Kenya’s natural resources. The urban population is projected to make up nearly 50 percent of the total population by 2050, leading to increased food demand and longer supply chains. These trends necessitate a comprehensive approach to feeding and supporting a growing population under challenging climatic and market conditions.

The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 addresses these challenges by promoting a diverse and resilient agricultural model. This model emphasizes diversifying farms and farming landscapes, optimizing biodiversity, and enhancing interactions between different sectors to create sustainable and healthy diets for all. Inclusion and gender equality are also critical components of this plan, ensuring that youth and women are empowered to contribute to and benefit from sustainable agricultural practices.

Delegates at a convening hosted by FOLU Coalition

During the recent FOLU coalition meeting held at Sawela Lodges in Naivasha, Kenya to reflect on the progress in the implementation of the action plan and prioritizing immediate actions, Jeremiah Rogito challenged coalition members to fully commit to the plan for biodiversity conservation. “Being part of the plan means taking concrete actions that contribute to the restoration and preservation of our biodiversity,” Rogito emphasized. He called on stakeholders to support youth in agribusiness, equip them with the necessary skills and resources, and enhance their access to growth capital. Rogito’s challenge highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts and the role of social inclusion in driving biodiversity conservation.

The theme “Be Part of the Plan” for the International Day for Biological Diversity celebrations 2024 is a rallying cry for all stakeholders to join forces in halting and reversing biodiversity loss. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030, represents a significant step towards integrating biodiversity into food systems.

As we reflect on the importance of biodiversity, let us commit to being part of the plan. Together, we can create a sustainable future where biodiversity flourishes, food systems are resilient, and all people enjoy nutritious and diverse diets. Let’s take this opportunity to make a lasting impact and secure a healthy planet for future generations.

By Jeremiah Rogito, Food and Land Use Coalition Specialist at AGRA.