Problems Affecting Food Security In Kenya Report Samples
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Food security has been a critical issue in both developing and developed countries. The availability of food throughout all seasons is normally referred to as food security. Food security ensures prosperity as individuals are empowered to work and generations survive with the abundance of food. The issue of food security has also been one of the greatest differences between developing countries and developed countries as the developed countries have food security while the developing countries struggle with this issue. Kenya is a developing country and thus falls under the category of countries with a struggling issue of food security. However, Kenya has a vast land, which is arable, thus the issues of food security are breed within the community rather than environmental. Some of the issues that continue to cripple the food security in Kenya include corruption, soil nutrient deterioration, poor infrastructure, and the application of poor technology, which leads to the underutilization of land. The lack of extension services and problems with land ownership are also at the center of food security issues in Kenya. Although different bodies both governmental and non-governmental have tried to come up with interventions, the adaption of these interventions and success is low because of the aforementioned prevailing conditions.
List of Acronyms
GoK- the Government of Kenya that has taken charge of agricultural research in this case whose responsibility it is to ensure food security in Kenya.
HIV/AIDS- a deadly disease from the HIV virus, which weakens the body. Has affected the lives of many Kenyans thus reducing their productivity.
GDP- Gross domestic product the sum of all of countries earnings for a period.
Cash Crop- crops that are planted for selling and have high profit margins. Usually not food crops. Cash crops include pyrethrum, coffee, and tea.
Subsistence Farming- engaging in farming for ensuring self-reliance and sustaining personal needs.
PROBLEMS AFFECTING FOOD SECURITY IN KENYA
It is interesting to find out that agriculture is one of the major economy contributors in Kenya as it leads in the economic sector. The contribution rises up to 25% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for 65% of the country’s exports thus creating 18% of the formal employment. In fact, growth of Kenya`s economy is highly dependent on the growth of the Agriculture sector. However, the success story of the agriculture sector in Kenya is not reflected in the area of food production (Prospect Team, 2013). For one, much of the agricultural sector concerns itself with non-food commodities such as coffee, tea, and flowers, which are considered as cash crops. Therefore, although the region achieves agricultural success, it is not related with food production but other agricultural products.
Additionally, for farmers who engage in food production, the target is usually the export market thus ignoring the domestic needs (GoK, 2007). Although the horticulture industry thrives and creates a large percentage of the jobs in the country, it is interesting to learn that most individuals find the export market more lucrative than the domestic market thus opting to export the food produce (Kitching, 2000, p. 35). In fact, this appears as mixed priorities as the country exports some food commodities and later imports them at higher prices from productive neighboring countries such as Tanzania. In this regard, the profit realized from the export of food commodities is used in importing the same products.
Response and evaluation
The only effective strategy for ensuring food security by addressing this threat includes focusing on the production of crops for domestic crops. Farmers should begin focusing on the domestic market. However, this is only attainable in a case where crops for domestic use offer competitive returns as their counterparts. The domestic market may not be as profitable as the export market thus the government should subsidize and purchase the farmers produce at high rates to ensure that the profits margins are covered adequately. In particular, the government and other agencies’ main objective should focus on building the competitive edge for domestic crops. In this way, more farmers will be motivated to venture in domestic production instead of cash crop production.
The agriculture and food production in Kenya mainly relies on rain thus is dependent on bimodal rainfall which only benefits parts of the country. In about 80% of the country, the rainfall per annum is about 400mm and the harvest seasons are three per year (GoK, 2002). Additionally, most farmers engage in small-scale farming due to the land ownership tussles and the capital required in engaging in large-scale food production (Daniel Branch, 2011, p.54). In this case, the small-scale production provides 75% of the total output in the agricultural sector as well as 70% of the agricultural produce, which is sold. As such, the efforts to maintain sustainable food production are limited by the issues of land use.
Climate change has also been a great obstacle for the issue of food security in Kenya as has been in other parts of the world. The effects of climate change have been critical especially on Kenyan farmers due to their reliance on rain for food production. The unpredictability and changes in the rain seasons have affected the ability of agricultural and food production planning. As such, farmers are unable to fully reap from the planting seasons. Regions, which used to receive high or adequate rainfall currently, receive insufficient rainfall. In this case, the land that supports food production is reduced greatly (Louise & Liebenthal 2006, p. 120).
Evaluation and response
Irrigation provides an alternative to rainfall food production. The government should help the farmers in initiating large-scale irrigation projects. However, efforts to initiate irrigation farming in the arid and semi-arid lands have also been delayed by the bureaucracy in land acquisition and the resettlement of landowners in this case. Estimates indicate that a change in the production system from rain dependence to irrigation systems could increase the food productivity to double digits depending on the crops chosen. However, efforts to initiate the irrigation processes have been negatively effected by the long processes and corruption.
The lack of extension services from the Kenyan agricultural sector have also contributed to the low food security levels in Kenya. Extension services are important especially in the dissemination of knowledge and agricultural information as well as technologies that farmers may use to increase their produce in food production. Furthermore, extension services link the farmers with the agricultural institutions, which provide advice to the farmers who engage in food production (Wangwe, 2005, p. 75). As such, the extension service in the agriculture sector is critical in linking the farmers with the economy and other sectors. The failure by the extension service in offering farming advice as well as technical information to the farmers has contributed to the low levels of food security in Kenya. The agents fail to promote the household food security through improving the knowledge on new methods. Additionally, the limited access to extension services is frustrating for farmers who engage in food production as they lack the proper advice and guidance regarding their soil composition and the best plants to plant within their regions. The current ration of national extension personnel and farmers stands at 1; 500 thus showing a high deficiency in the number of personnel.
Evaluation and Response
The government should increase the number of extension personnel who offer services to the farmers. This will in turn add on the advice given to the farmers regarding the soil fertility and the types of crop to plant in their land portion. The farmers will also have the correct guidance regarding planting and harvesting seasons.
The application of outdated technology in food production is another issue, which has caused the current situation in food security in Kenya. Although Kenya has maintained a well-developed system in agricultural research as well as science and technology with the cooperation of local universities, the access to this technology is not provided to the farmers (Messah 2011, p. 88). Additionally, due to the high costs associated with acquiring such technology the small-scale farmers retain the traditional methods of food production. The technology is only available to the large-scale farmers who are able to invest their returns to acquire the technology. As such, small-scale farmers who mainly contribute to the food security within the country are unable to maintain the trends in food production.
Response and evaluation
There is the need of supporting small scale farmers considering their pivotal role in ensuring food security among the Kenyan population. As identified, lack of enough funds or ability to employ modern techniques of farming has forced these farmers to remain using unproductive and unsustainable food production techniques. In this respect, the government and other agencies should step and formulate policies and plans that would empower farmers financially while subsiding the cost of adopting modern technology and tools.
The issue of pest and diseases is also a problem that affects food production in Kenya. This issue affects the food production in Kenya by causing continued losses to the food-producing farmers. Additionally, this is connected to the lack of information among the farmers on how to control the pests and diseases. The effect of pests and diseases is felt prior to harvesting as well as post-harvest (Food; Nations, Agriculture Organization of the United, 2013). The post-harvest losses come about due to the poor handling of the harvest as well as the poor conditions within the storage facilities. During the past, bountiful harvests have been destroyed by afflatoxins thus causing parts of the country to depend on relief food and cheaper imports from Tanzania and Uganda. The lack of proper storage facilities leads to the rodent infestation on the food produce. Additionally, the failure by extension services to reach out to farmers and provide storage facilities as well as educated the on storage techniques have contributed to the destruction of harvest (Bhutta et al 2009, p. 34). Additionally, the correct use of farm inputs is unknown to most Kenyan farmers. For example, most farmers prepare land using fertilizer since it is a common practice but not because the soil needs. In this perspective, these farmers lack the correct direction on the application of vaccines, fertilizer, and pesticides. As such, the farmers misuse the resources available by thinking that their production will increase. Additionally, these practices only reduce the yields that farmers receive. In other cases, where the farmers require fertilizers and soil fertility boosters, they are not available. For this reason, the level of food production is low thus lowering the food security levels in the country.
Evaluation and Response
Farmers in Kenya lag behind due to the lack of finances to purchase the farming technology and inputs. As such, the government should initiate subsidization processes to ensure that farmers can obtain this equipment at affordable rates. Farming technology and the right inputs ensure that the farmers utilize their land adequately thus allowing for increased food production over the small scale farming.
The soil nutrient deterioration is also a factor that has lowered food production thus lowering the food security in the country. The increase in population has resorted to the subdivision of land in methods that are not economically helpful thus creating the uneconomically small units (Hovorka 2001, p. 66). Furthermore, the farmers lack to apply the fallow periods and cultivate the land continuously thus depriving the soil of its nutrients. The depletion of soil nutrients has contributed significantly in the decline of the yields obtained from the soil. The issues of soil nutrient deterioration can also be attributed to the lack of information, which guides the farmers on how to conduct the right farming practices.
Poor infrastructure has also been an obstacle in providing and creating food security in Kenya. As such, rural roads as well as other systems of physical infrastructure have increased the transportation costs for the agricultural products as well as farming inputs (GoK, 2004). The absence of efficient transport systems has also led to the spoilage of perishable commodities during the process of movement (Wanyeki, 2003. p.39). On the other hand, this translates to high loses for the farmers thus causing more frustration. In this regard, although Kenya is a highly productive country agriculturally, the issue of poor infrastructure continues to negatively affect the issue of food production thus reducing the food security in Kenya. The issue of poor infrastructure also hinders the utilization of arable land because individuals cannot access such areas.
Evaluation and Response
For the small-scale landowners, the government has initiated a national title deed issuing program. The purpose of this program has been to settle and give the smaller landholders more land to occupy and practice farming. Additionally, the initiative to crackdown on the ministry of lands has ensured that more peasant farmers who have been squatters for a long period are able to own government issued land. The title deed issuing process, which has already been initiated, has served in ensuring that the farmers have land security and that they can initiate the food production processes. In this case, this increases their reliance and food production thus improving on the food security issue in Kenya.
The government should invest on infrastructure to open up the rural and productive parts of Kenya. The opening up of these regions will ensure that farmers produce is not spoilt on the way to the market. Furthermore, it will ensure that the extension personnel are able to reach out to all farmers thus giving the right extension services.
Economic zoning is also an issue, which has contributed to the low food security levels in Kenya. The country is a developing nation, which means that although a good portion of the land is arable for different food production processes, individuals continue to engage in different economic activities. The rural urban migration has contributed to the abandonment of agricultural and food production activities in search of white collar and formal jobs (Singer, 2007, p.39). Furthermore, families belong to different wealth distribution groups, which mean that households engage in different activities other than farming in order to obtain food. The poor households may have an interest in farming but have little land to resort to for the farming processes. On the other hand, wealthy households have larger tracts of land but let it lay uncultivated thus low production levels (Hand, 2006, p.65). Additionally, the situation remains the same because both the rich and poor households are affected differently by the food crisis.
The food security problem in Kenya is also attributed to continuity of the traditional practices in terms of farming and food production. From traditional periods, there are different categories of farmers in Kenya. The first category is that of pastoralists who engage in livestock agriculture. However, the livestock is used in maintaining a culture rather than for food production (Kang'ethe, Ontita, E., & Mwangi, 2000, p.48). In some situations, members of the pastoral communities could die hungry and live their livestock as inheritance or family property for the younger generations (Mwanda, 2000, p. 18). Another group is that of the subsistence farmers who only engage in farming for personal use rather than for sale. These individuals are mainly in rural areas. The subsistence approach to farming in Kenya contributes to poor land use and misuse of the harvests because much of the harvest is stored to feed individuals throughout a longer period rather than serving national interests.
Evaluation and response
The government should promote urban farming as an approach to sustainable food production and security. The rural urban migration means that the urban areas depend on the rural areas, which practice agriculture for food production. As such, the sprawling urban areas hold more population than the rural areas. Encouraging urban farming ensures that the food sources increase thus improving on food security in the country.
The lack of a comprehensive food security policy also affects the food security situation in Kenya. Although the Kenyan government has initiated interventions in the past, the strategies put in place have been overtaken by time given the rate of population growth in Kenya. As such, the government is always seen to be lagging behind in terms of formulating and implementing a suitable policy to rescue the country from issues of food insecurity (Ayieko & Tschirley 2009, p.12). Additionally, this may be seen as the failure to plan as the government uses past statistics in terms of census to initiate the strategies rather than predicting the population growth over a period and utilizing this to set up the right policy for the country (Ayieko&Tschirley, 2009, p.12).
Food insecurity is also caused by the attitude towards farming by a majority of Kenyan farmers within the productive land zones. Kenya, being a developing country means that many individuals are constantly looking for ways to become successful and richer. In this perspective, a majority of the farmers engage in farming using trends with the idea that a certain crop is more lucrative than the others are (GoK 2003). As such, farmers are lured to produce one type of crop over a period then change to other types when the market is flooded and they cannot earn any more revenues (Mukhebi, Mbogoh, &Matungulu 2011, p.56). The concept of using agriculture and food production as a trade rather than a means of ensuring sustainability means that profit making is always the focus of a majority of farmers. For example, during one period, the production of maize can be high while that of other crops is low (GoK, 2004). In this perspective, the food insecurity takes place because of the inconsistency in levels of production where one crop is overproduced while the other is poorly produced thus the excess has to be exported.
Evaluation and Response
Kenya can solve the food insecurity issue if the government intervenes with the accurate land and farming policy. Government policy is superior because it will have the backing of powerful leadership within the country. As such, the policy should cover the issues of subsistence farming and land use within the country. Good government initiative promotes the use of sustainable methods as well as changing the farmer’s attitudes. In this perspective, food production will change as more farmers will address the domestic needs rather than the export market.
In the vision 2030 program which is a government program on development, the Government of Kenya has increased the revenues to agriculture extension services and support for farmers. Additionally, the government of Kenya has channeled more resources to stimulate the agriculture sector. The Vision 2030 in Kenya is one of the policies which are focusing on the agriculture sector and aim at assisting Kenyan farmers in realizing their potential. Additionally, the ministry of agriculture has been given different departments in which serve as a classification of land system. As such, the departments have been created in order to address the specific needs of each region, including arid and semi arid areas.
Political conflict and corruption are factors that lead to food insecurity. The political climate in Kenya has not been always stable and these conflicts have had a negative impact on food production. Political conflicts tend to highly influence and affect the food producing areas as they are highly populated as compared to the non-producing areas. These conflicts reduce the farming activity even long after they are amicably resolved. Furthermore, the conflicts play a part in making the country insecure and farmers are evicted from their land thus causing the internal displacement of landowners. The process used in resettling former landowners to their land is long and often harbors the food production process. Corruption is also an issue, which comes along with the political instability (Barrett, 2010, p.4; Coates, Jennifer, Swindale & Bilinsky 2007, p.24). Due to corruption, many farmers are unable to acquire farm inputs, which have been subsidized by the government. Corruption also harbors the distribution of technical personnel who assist farmers in gaining knowledge about the modern farming practices. As a result, farmers are unable to maximize on the use of their productive land for the purposes of food production thus creating the food insecurity, which occurs as a vicious cycle within the agriculturally productive country.
Poverty on the other hand also affects the food security in Kenya. Most farmers are poor and have other priorities to perform with the money they earn from previous harvests. With large families, much of the focus from the money earned through food production is spend on education and health (KIPPRA, 2011, p. 45). As such, farmers are unable to expand their farming services although at times they earn good income from food production. Poverty also hinders individuals from initiating community-farming initiatives using communal land. In this perspective, the issue of food production is not sustainable to serve the entire country thus causing food insecurity.
Evaluation and Response
The government initiative to fight corruption will definitely end poverty by the equitable distribution of resources. In this perspective, farmers will be better placed with a sustainable political climate for development in agriculture. Government initiative for formulate a support policies within the agriculture sector will ensure sustainability and an increase in food production within the country.
The food insecurity issues in Kenya arise from both major and minor issues. These issues revolve around the means of food production, methods of land ownership and distribution as well as social and economic set up of the country. The technology applied in food production limits the amount of food produced thus causing the underutilization of land. Additionally, land ownership and conflicts from land issues lead to the underutilization of land thus having the arable land subdivided over many users. Majority of the farmers are also unable to invest in large-scale farming thus only engage in subsistence farming thus lowing the food produced in arable land. Minor issues such as poor health and HIV/AIDS prevalence have also affected the food production in Kenya thus causing food insecurity. As such, disease sweeps the able generations thus leaving the aged and the children to perform farming activities and these groups of individuals are not effective for such jobs. In this regard, the arable land has no one to till and thus food production is very low. Additionally, much of the revenue is not directed towards farming but towards health and medication thus lowering the levels of food production in the country. The issues highlighted emerge both from the government and from the Kenyan population. Although Kenya has adequate potential and resources to ensure food security, these issues continue to harbor the process of food production thus causing lower harvests and low food security.
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