Articles

Using Evidence to Influence Policy: Tegemeo's Experience in Agricultural Policy & Development, November 2017

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The use of robust evidence to help make policy decisions cannot be overemphasised. In the agriculture sector, attaining food security has been a top priority for the government. As such, the government has intervened with several policy interventions to ensure the country is food secure. These include subsidizing fertiliser and most recently, allowing importation of maize and providing a food subsidy.

In responding to the need to have policies in the agricultural sector backed by evidence, Tegemeo Institute conducts studies that aim to generate this evidence for sharing with policy makers. One such study is the food situation assessment of key staples and their costs of production that has been carried out annually since 2012.

Maize is the most important staple food in the country, accounting for two-thirds of daily calorie intake for Kenyans. Hence, maize is synonymous with food. In the study carried out for the 2017/18 cropping year, the key findings were that the nation was likely to face a maize deficit due to erratic rainfall and fall army worm infestation. The Institute disseminated findings from the 2017 study to stakeholders, key among them the Kenyan government, at a breakfast meeting held on October 6th 2017. Key recommendations were that the government will need to step in and introduce strategic measures such as securing maize imports early enough, to cushion Kenyans from hunger and avoid a repeat of what was witnessed early in the year when food prices soared.

Mr. Kevin Onyango, a Research Associate at Tegemeo Institute noted that “the current food stocks inclusive of the expected long and short rains harvest would only last the country for nine (9) months, that is, up to May 2018”. Additionally, “Costs are still high, and so local production is not competitive”, said Dr. Timothy Njagi, a Research Fellow at the Institute.Production costs have also increased in 2017 in comparison to 2016”, he further noted, adding that this was due to declining yields, rising input costs, suboptimal technology choices and low response to fertiliser application.

It’s gratifying for the Institute to note that the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF) not only reached out to the Institute to share findings from the survey, but the Ministry further used the survey findings in making key decisions for the strategic grain reserve. The Ministry and the Strategic Food Reserve Board used the information generated by Tegemeo on costs of maize production in the 2017/18 cropping year to recommend the price at which the government will purchase maize from farmers for the strategic reserves (More information is available at: http://www.kilimo.go.ke/index.php/media-center/press-release/).

The studies done by Tegemeo have been important as they provide credible evidence for the government and other key stakeholders on matters food security. Granted the support by key stakeholders and development partners, the Institute will continue to track key indicators and to offer sound, coherent and empirically-based policy options that effectively contribute to the country's development and efforts to reduce food insecurity and poverty. 

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