Agriculture is said and believed to be Kenya’s ‘bread-winner’ as it accounts for approximately 33% of the country’s gross domestic income while 75% of Kenyans earn their income from it. In the last decades there has been continual increase in the human population in Kenya and contrary to the expectation; agriculture productivity has remained constant if it has not reduced. With the arable land at 20% under the increasing human population; it is feared that the agricultural land will continue to face competition with human settlement. The speedily rise of industrialization and commercialization of the food system continues to stir social interest in many citizens over agricultural production to meet the demand of the food system in specific human nutrition and access to adequate food. Reflecting on the role of agriculture; it is a key player in the economic growth of our country and catalyzes the move towards poverty eradication in Kenya. With food nutrition and security as an umbrella of the president’s big four agenda; the agricultural policies in place should be walking us towards the attainment of a zero hunger nation. However; this is not the take; we are walking backwards with reports and news showing increase in number of people going to bed hungry to 1.5M within seven months.
Government policies and politics have always had an impact in agricultural policies. However; our government politics are occasionally against the purpose of the agricultural policies. For instance with the ever occurring maize scandal the NCPD and MOALF always face political drift leaving farmers crying; disappointed and ‘desperate”. Our politics kind off fight the willingness of Kenya’s small holder farmers and oppress them to the extend there has been evidence of some shifting from maize production to other most ‘promising’ agricultural produce if not real estate business posing Kenya at a risk of failing to achieve zero hunger. The self-centered interest by some government officials and leaders have always been a barrier to implementation of our policies. Contrary to agricultural policies advocating for consumption of local produce and capacity building of our farmers towards increase agricultural production we daily witness food importation and neglecting of our own farmers by the government citing seeking better and fast solution.
LACK OF COMMITMENT AND TRANSPARENCY
Kenya we are doing well in holding conferences and boardroom meetings discussing our policies and making new ones but we fail because we don’t want to hold accountable and to give accounts. The moment we fail to be transparent and accountable in implementation of what we draft and pass; it is the start of a failing journey. Been transparent calls for ability to be able to provide supportive evidence and records of every step and process to in the implementation of the policies. Lack of serious commitment from those in relevant position in implementing the policies also plays a role in its failure as there is disconnects in dots and flow of work in progress isn’t continuous making it hard to account for.
For a good period of time; the agriculture sector has been hit by numerous cases of corruption as a result of greed from self-centered leaders/employees/personnel in the relevant dockets. There can never be progress if those assigned are just but eyeing their pockets. The ever trend of food importation in specific maize and rice; fertilizer and agricultural inputs always find themselves articulated to corruption and cartels who want to dominate; earn and oppress the small holder farmer. A question that never finds an answer and if does not clearly; why is it that we find ourselves going round the maize scandal each and every year? Why do we have to import maize then from blues we have our stores full while farmers cry of having nowhere to take their maize? Our policies safeguarding the issuance of subsidies to farmers; purchase of maize/agricultural products are very clear and as easy to implement but because of self-interest then it is over showered by greed and corruption.
DISCONNECTING DOTS IN MONITORING AND EVALUATION
For those who understand the role of monitoring and evaluation will agree that we have a gap of this in the implementation of our policies. We lag behind in keeping an eye of our moves and progress. Our dots don’t connect; always missing information and disagreement in how far we are. How we evaluate our implementation is wanting; can we review our policies results for the last five years? We rarely have a result oriented driven policies, meaning that we need to develop policies from impacts of the previous period results. What wasn’t achieved or attained in the previous period of policy implementation should form a baseline in drafting and implementation of the new period policy. The dots should always connect for the policies are our “rules” guiding us on how we can and will do our agriculture business towards achieving the zero hunger agenda.
We don’t need new agriculture policies; let us refined our doings and align ourselves towards the existing guidelines and adopt accountability; transparency; monitory and evaluation and cut of greed and personal interest.
Ms. Mercy Limbua
Food safety and value chain Consultant