Conference on Expanding Kenya’s Agricultural Competitiveness, Market Access and Food Security: Research Findings and Policy Options
The agricultural sector in Kenya will continue to play a significant role in the country’s overall economic growth and development as is envisaged in the Vision 2030. With the integration of the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) and the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), Kenya is well positioned to make tremendous gains in transforming its agricultural sector. Nonetheless, there are challenges that must be overcome if this momentum is to be sustained. In order to transform the agricultural sector into a modern, commercially-oriented sector, issues of poverty, competitiveness and market access come to the forefront especially with the current trends in regional and global integration. The availability and access to food particularly for the urban poor is also becoming a key challenge.
These issues call for continued attention by policy makers, development agencies and all stakeholders in general. Tegemeo Institute of Egerton University has been conducting research on these issues and organized a conference to disseminate its research findings and provide a forum for feedback and discussion of alternative policy options. These findings are based on household and market survey data as well as urban consumption/expenditure survey collected by the Institute. Our results show that cereal production in Kenya is still challenged by low competitiveness compared with its trading partners. In addition, market participation among smallholder households, particularly the poor is low. On a more positive note and one that supports the ASDS’s thrust towards commercialization, our results indicate that households exiting poverty register greater market participation and a higher marketable surplus. On consumption, the results point at increasing food insecurity among the poor and the need for reliability and efficiency in markets and other components of the urban food system in order to deliver affordable and nutritious food. They also support the use of more cost effective strategies in targeting vulnerable consumers.
The Conference was officially opened by Dr. Romano M. Kiome Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture Kenya.