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Africa getting on track to strengthen Food Security and Nutrition Policy

FAO and the European Union working with African Governments

The workshop has convened over 60 delegates from 14 African countries, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the EU and FAO. (Photo: ©FAO)

14 May 2018, Nairobi – Kenya’s Agriculture Principal Secretary Dr. Richard Lesiyampe has welcomed food security and nutrition policy assistance from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the European Union and described it as “timely and valuable”. Dr Lesiyampe opened the regional workshop of the Food and Nutrition Security, Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST) Programme at the Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi (14-15 May).

The workshop has convened over 60 delegates from 14 African countries, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the EU and FAO. The event is organized in the frame of the FIRST Programme, a policy assistance facility that sees countries working with the European Union and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to enable policy environments for better food security and nutrition. The aim of the workshop is to strengthen FIRST’s effectiveness in delivering policy assistance to 14 African countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Uganda – and ECOWAS.

FIRST is an FAO-EU partnership that sees policy officers and technical experts work directly with national governments and local institutions. Priority areas of work are identified together with governments through a comprehensive assessment of the policy and institutional context, including any constraints and opportunities, for bringing about change.

“It is not very often that you have a technical meeting between the donor (EU) the technical assistance agency (FAO) and member states,” observed Dr. Rugalema, the FAO Country Representative to Kenya. “Our policy support to the government needs to go beyond the usual business to address disaster preparedness, rehabilitation and long-term recovery” he added.

Dr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel, the FAO Africa Regional programme leader noted in his remarks that the African Union, Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved livelihoods, adopted in 2014, had set quite an ambitious goal to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goal’s deadline. “It is clear that with a business-as-usual approach, this target will not be achieved. Intensification and acceleration of effective partnerships are needed for making tangible progress, focusing efforts on turning these commitments into results through concerted actions by all stakeholders” Said Dr. Abebe.

Andrea Ferrero, head of the EU Delegation to Kenya, reported that the EU has already allocated 190 million Euros to Kenya’s Agricultural development under the 11th European Development Fund for the period 2013 – 2020. Of these funds, 60.5 million is supporting programme to build the resilience of communities in the arid and semi-arid lands through the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA); 10 million towards land policy harmonization and performance programme through FAO; 6 million to the second phase of the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) to support policy coordination; 45 million to support the integration of smallholder farmers into value chains and 50 million towards the development of climate-proofed infrastructure, including water harvesting and rural roads, in the ASAL areas.  

Dr. Lesiyampe recognized the significant contribution of the FIRST programme in Kenya in supporting the development of the Agricultural Sector Growth and Transformation Strategy (ASGTS) and finalizing the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy Implementation Framework (2017 – 2022) which includes improving inter-sectoral coordination by establishing the Food and Nutrition Security Council. He highlighted three areas that the government of Kenya required additional support from the programme: more evidence to guide investment in irrigation, value addition, farmer organization, resilient and climate smart agriculture, more technical support in improving sectoral coordination and inter-governmental relations and more capacity development to improve the implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the different investment plans and programmes.

Agriculture accounts for more than 26 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and another 27 per cent indirectly through linkages with other sectors and provides a livelihood for more than 65 per cent of the population.

However, a changing climate and increasingly unpredictable rainfall has caused three years of drought and now major floods. The agriculture sector has also been affected by Fall Armyworm.

On the Government’s Big Four Agenda, the Principal Secretary said that the country would achieve 100% food and nutrition security through, “increasing production and productivity; driving smallholder productivity and agro-processing; reducing cost of food; and improving the institutional and legal environment for investment. Further, there will be focus on use of an ICT infrastructure, irrigation, research and commercialization to transform the crop, livestock and fishery production” Dr. Lesiyampe. He also affirmed the Ministry’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and the targets set out in the Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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