FAO in Kenya

National Nutrition Project Close-Out Workshop

Nutrition Workshop participants group photo.

Nairobi - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (COANRE), through the support of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Japan conducted a joint National project close-out in Naivasha, Kenya from May 12th -13th 2022.

Over the past 5 years, FAO has implemented the project “Strengthening capacities for nutrition-sensitive food systems with a multi-stakeholder approach” to boost the capacities of SMEs and mainstream nutrition into academic curricula. The project has been implemented in Ghana, Kenya and Vietnam.

The workshop provided platform for FAO and partners to take stock of the progress made under the project, and further mobilize national stakeholders to promote an enabling environment for nutrition-sensitive investments by SMEs. It also provided an opportunity to present project results achieved in collaboration with partner organizations including universities, identify opportunities for other partners to enhance the capacities of SMEs while also mobilizing national actors to create a policy environment in support of SMEs, and nutrition-sensitive business approaches.

FAO and partners presented the project’s achievements and discussed ways to improve the policy environment in support of SMEs and facilitate the adoption of nutrition-sensitive approaches in the agrifood sector. The participants had the opportunity to explore ways to upscale the capacity development activities developed under the project while expanding their reach.

In her welcome remarks, Ambassador Carla Mucavi, FAO Kenya Representative highlighted the crucial role played by SMEs in value chains – from food production to its distribution. She lauded the efforts made towards promoting nutrition-sensitive approaches through the support of Kenyan universities and national stakeholders. Mucavi also reiterated the importance of facilitating the creation of an enabling environment for the private sector and SMEs to be efficient and resilient while working in a sustainable manner.

Role of SMEs in Promoting Nutrition-Sensitive Approaches.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), make up the bulk of the Kenyan business environment and have made enormous progress and great contributions to national food security, social stability, and poverty reduction.

Agrifood SMEs, in particular, play an important role in the achievement of healthy diets for all. They are key stakeholders in shaping the environment for food accessibility and marketing. SMEs contribute to increasing the accessibility of nutritious and healthy food to consumers, as well as generating job and income opportunities.

The sector records many achievements and a positive performance from SMEs; however, there is need for improvement in supporting SMEs facing barriers to providing healthy foods in a sustainable way. Some of these barriers include financial, infrastructural and policy challenges that impact on SMEs’ performance from food production to its distribution, as well as on its accessibility to consumers.

In her presentation Dr. Pilar Santacoloma from the Food and Nutrition Division of FAO, said that involving SMEs was a critical goal of the project due to their predominance in food systems and their role in linking consumers and producers for the provision of healthy foods in local markets

She lauded JKUAT for the impressive, vibrant synergy with the selected SMEs in adopting nutrition-sensitive business approaches and involving trained university students as interns to provide technical assistance to the SMEs” she said.

Support towards SMEs

The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua who also graced the occasion congratulated COANRE for managing to simultaneously train SMEs and review six out of the 13 programmes in less than a year, a task he described herculean but one that would impact Kenya and beyond.

“Curriculum review is conducted every four years and is never done in seclusion. Professional organizations and other stakeholders must be consulted to ensure that the content is market responsive”, said Prof. Kinyua.

Professor Cecilia Onyango, a representative from the academia, acknowledged the importance of the integration of nutrition-sensitive knowledge in the academic curricula and their overall revision, which was carried out as part of FAO’s project. She also called for awareness-raising on the importance of collaboration among universities and national stakeholders to improve nutrition.

During the project, the selected 19 SMEs, including MMNJO agencies and Azaavi Foods, received training from JKUAT experts in business plan writing, new food processing techniques, assessing product nutritional value using the FAO Food Tables, and stabilization for longer shelf life, among others.

In addition to providing 12 SMEs with specialized equipment funded by the project, JKUAT linked the SMEs with manpower via interns from COANRE as part of ensuring that students develop hands-on industry-specific skills, particularly quality control.

The Director Mmunjo Agencies, Morris Okoth provided positive feedback on the technical support received from (JKUAT) – one of FAO’s project partners, “through the support provided to SMEs under the project, my company has improved on many aspects related to the integration of nutrition-sensitive approaches in business activities,” he explained.

The closeout workshop featured over 60 physical and virtual participants from the Development sector, academia, government, and stakeholders from the agri-food industry from both local and international sphere. They discussed the dynamics required to promote nutrition-sensitive approaches as well as create a viable business environment for the SMEs.

For Further Information, Please Contact:

Pauline Akolo

Communication Specialist,

Email: [email protected]