Making Agri-food Systems Work for the Rural Poor in Eastern and Southern Africa
Improving agricultural productivity is crucial in enhancing food security and accelerating pro-poor growth. Various functions in implementation of programmes/projects that are geared towards mitigating food insecurity and poverty reduction have been decentralized to the local level (district and below) as a way of increasing responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency. This has been achieved by establishment of organs through which various functions are effected and by involvement of various stakeholders, including the farmers. To ensure that initiatives are/remain relevant to the needs of local communities particularly the poor and vulnerable, it is important to continually review the governance mechanisms that are in place at these local levels. A key objective of the agri-food systems project is to promote policies and governance mechanisms for sustainable agri-food systems. It seeks to contribute to the understanding of why current policies, institutions and governance mechanisms have not enhanced ability of the rural poor, women and the vulnerable to secure sustainable livelihoods, food and income security and a revitalized natural resource base.
It is against this backdrop that Tegemeo Institute of Egerton University undertook studies in Mbeere, Kirinyaga and Nyandarua to establish the local level structures responsible for various food security-related initiatives, their composition and the existing linkages both upstream and downstream as well as horizontal linkages. In addition, the Institute captured the perception of local stakeholders on dimensions of governance that are relevant to making agri-food systems work for the poor and vulnerable namely, the satisfaction, participation and their influence. This study is within the broader project on “Making Agri-food Systems Work for the Rural Poor” being carried out in collaboration with other local and regional partners.
Preliminary results show that the structure is still limiting farmers’ involvement in decision making, in resource allocation and in ensuring programmes and projects remain accountable. In addition, current funding levels seem to be curtailing the convening of various organs/committees and wider farmer representation. Farmers on the other hand seem to have minimal understanding of the projects in which they are participating in although there was an above average perception on satisfaction with benefit derived from the projects. There was also little knowledge on existing civil society groups, their agenda/mandate and influence on the committees.
Tegemeo Institute organized for workshops to disseminate it findings and get feedback from the community. The workshops drew participants from farmer groups, civil societies and NGOs .