Improving food security in western Kenya
Title: Food security through improved agricultural productivity in western Kenya
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation
Overall term: 2017 to 2019
Kenya’s agricultural sector is characterised by small-scale farms. Smallholders produce around 75 per cent of the country’s food – largely for their own use. The rapidly growing population, especially in towns and cities, coupled with the impacts of climate change and the scarcity of both land and water are threatening natural resources and present major challenges for Kenya’s agricultural and food sectors. The high level of youth unemployment and a lack of services in rural areas are causing young people mindful of their futures to migrate to towns and cities.
The political institutional landscape has changed radically in the wake of the decentralisation process launched in 2013. Responsibility for agricultural services rests with newly created county governments. This affects agricultural extension services and training in particular. Cooperation between the authorities at national and county level still has room for improvement. In addition, the role of the national level in ensuring the continuing development of resources and capacities of the agricultural services at county level needs to be consolidated.
Key institutions for agricultural development, above all at national level and in the counties of western Kenya, promote sustainable agriculture that contributes to food security.
The project operates in the counties of Bungoma, Kakamega and Siaya in western Kenya. The project team advises the national Ministry of Agriculture with respect to putting the new, decentralised technical structures in place. The Ministry receives support in particular for building up and developing the counties’ capacities for providing agricultural extension services, and trialling other service models involving the private sector and non-governmental organisations. In addition, the Ministry receives advice on adapting national strategies to the requirements of decentralisation and its implementation. The project also supports the formation and development of young people’s umbrella associations.
The project team assists decision-makers in the selected counties in planning and realising sustainable agricultural development, taking nutrition issues into account, as agricultural extension services and curricula promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture.
The policy advice has contributed to shaping the new national Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy as well as the validation of nine national sub-sector strategy papers to promote food security and agricultural productivity in smallholder households. During a regional youth conference, around 800 young people from western Kenya talked to national and municipal representatives about rural transformation and passed a youth declaration. Representative agribusiness associations provide the young people with a platform to pool their interests and represent and assert them more effectively to the counties by participating in forums.
Training and coaching sessions have led to a substantial improvement not only in coordination between national and county level but also in development planning for the three partner counties. Further training units on preventing corruption have been established in the counties through cooperation with the Good Governance project.
Agricultural extension systems provide more than 45,000 farmers with information on good agricultural practice. Thanks to financing arrangements with research and training institutions, learning content has been improved and communication between research and advisory services has become more effective. More than 20,000 individuals have completed agricultural courses and drawn up plans for turnover. Innovative information services are improving the practices of over 25,000 farmers, for example by using IT to help diagnose plant diseases.