FOLU Kenya coalition partners pose for a photo during the strategy meeting

Food and land use systems stakeholders in Kenya re-affirmed the need for an urgent transformation as the country faces multiple and interconnected challenges in food and nutrition insecurity, land degradation, increasing inequalities and low agriculture output. This follows a 2-day strategy meeting of the FOLU Coalition in Kenya that was held in Naivasha Kenya between 1st-2nd November 2022. 

The strategy meeting was convened by AGRA, WRI Africa and GAIN. With around 49 stakeholders drawn from government, county government, private sector, development partners, farmer organizations and civil society organizations, the meeting was a follow up to a workshop that was held in June 2022 that led to the formation of the coalition. The Naivasha meeting was primarily to identify key bottlenecks and prioritise action areas in the food and land use systems in Kenya. 

Josephat Muhunyu, the Agriculture Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, (State Department of Crops) speaking during the official opening of the meeting observed that “Food and Nutrition Security is beyond maize production. Kenya food reserves has expanded beyond maize as an indicator of food security”. He also highlighted, that environmental changes have resulted to increase in pests and diseases such as the locust invasion and the fall army worms outbreak. He further mentioned that 83% of Kenya’ s land is arid, there is. Therefore, need to improve on the production and distribution systems taking into account the reduced and shifting rainfall patterns. He noted that Government recognizes the need for an urgent transformation in Kenya’s food and land use systems to achieve food and nutritional security. He acknowledged the role played by various partners and encouraged the coalition partners to do more in the generation of evidence, development of pilots, to supplement government efforts.

The programme Officer for FOLU Kenya emphasized the opportunities to shape and influence Kenya’s transformation due to the fact that the Coalition was still in its formative stages. Further, FOLU Kenya is part of the larger FOLU global network that is operating in Australia, United Kingdom, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and the Nordics which allows for more South-South learning. 

The coalition in Kenya agreed to prioritize 4 transitions areas – Healthy diets, Productive and regenerative agriculture, Protecting and restoring nature and Food loss and waste towards a sustainable food and land use system. The 4 areas will be complimented by three cross cutting transitions (Local loops & linkages, Digitization, and Gender and Demographics). “The 2nd strategy meeting is being held at an opportune moment when there is a new government in Kenya that is committed to addressing climate change while ensuring major gains in the agriculture sector” – Jeremiah Rogito FOLU Programme Officer. FOLU Kenya will main operate through as evidence-based advocacy approach to contribute to the achievement of food and nutritional security goals in Kenya. Realizing that agriculture is a devolved function in Kenya, FOLU Kenya will establish action groups at the local level to ensure the goals and aspiration of FOLU are achieved.” He added.

Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use

Officials from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture (Veronica Kirogo and Jane Wambugu respectively) observed that “…there need for diversification of food production beyond maize production as a measure of food security. With climate change, there is need to diversify the food stapples by promoting and embracing innovations such as biofortification. There exists a wide range of biofortified foods such as the high iron bean, orange fleshed sweet potato and zinc rice that can form a significant part of Kenya’s stapple foods.” Ms. Veronica Kirogo highlighted that Kenya already has policies and legislation that recognises citizens right to adequate food in various documents. The Kenyan Constitution, specifically article 43 (1) (C),  explicitly recognizes the right to ‘adequate food of acceptable quality’ as an integral part of the right of citizens.

Dr Abednego Kiwia, representing AGRA Kenya`s Country Manager highlighted that are already several initiatives in productive and regenerative agriculture and emphasized the need for stronger collaborations for greater impact. Speaking during event, Charles Opiyo from GAIN and James Wangu from WRI Africa also highlighted several initiatives that GAIN and WRI Africa are undertaking towards a sustainable food and land use system in Kenya in the areas of nutrition and natural resources management respectively. They encouraged the participants to enhance local loops for a greater and more sustainable impact. 

The two-day workshop reaffirmed the need for an urgent food and land use systems transformation. Further, the stakeholders affirmed the need to concentrate efforts in the four critical transitions (Healthy diets, productive and regenerative agriculture, protection and restoration of nature and food loss and waste) of FOLU as identified in the FOLU global growing better report. Participants identified the impact pathways for sustainable food and land use system. They also affirmed the need to address cross cutting issues such as gender and demographics, digital revolution and strengthening local loops and linkages. 

Assan Ngombe Resilience officer at AGRA speaking at the close of the strategy meeting highlighted that “it is no doubt that our food and land use systems in Kenya need an urgent transformation. Going forward the FOLU Kenya secretariat (AGRA, WRI Africa and GAIN) will consultatively work towards the development of an action agenda or programme of action for the sustainable food and land use transformation in Kenya which will be launched by March 2023. “This strategy meeting has provided valuable input that will be incorporated in the action agenda that will be launched in March 2023,” he added.

 The FOLU efforts in Kenya acknowledge the support of Norway´s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) through the FOLU global secretariat. Key partners on the ground include WRI Africa that is leading efforts to address food loss and waste and protection and restoration of nature, and GAIN that is leading efforts to address healthy diets.