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  • Venue: Ololulung’a Sub County Headquarters, Narok County

    Pastoralism is an extensive form of livestock production that constitutes the main production system found in rangelands, providing livelihoods to an estimated of 500 million people globally. Similar to other parts of the world, the country’s public policy has not always pursued policies that are sustain pastoralism. This has been due to misconceptions about pastoralism, competition from other land uses, demographic changes and urbanisation. As such, pastoral communities in Kenya, similar to other parts of the world, are now facing immense pressure on their land.

    Against this backdrop, Tegemeo Institute conducted a study that tracked how land tenure in pastoralist communities had changed. In addition, we were able to compare this evolution with what is happening to pastoral communities in other parts of the world with a view of learning from these experience and drawing lessons that will help pastoral communities sustain their productive systems. We have drawn lessons through interaction with experts from Sub Saharan Africa and Latin America. The findings from this work are now ready to be disseminated as we continue to engage in the debate for sustaining pastoralism. It is in the light of this that the Institute is organizing a workshop where key findings from this study will be presented and discussed. The workshop will brought together government bureaucrats, pastoral communities and other stakeholders working with pastoral communities.

    Workshop Proceedings

    See more out put from the Ella Project 

  • Kenya faces one of the most challenging years when it comes to food security. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, food security is achieved

    when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic knocked on its door, the country faced a devastating desert locust invasion. This added to constraints posed by excessive rainfall experienced from October 2019.

    The worst food insecurity that Kenya has faced in recent years was in 2017 and 2008. The food production deficit and food prices were their highest ever in these years.

    The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimates that about 12 million people are food poor. These are people whose income doesn’t enable them to consume enough calories for a healthy lifestyle. Two-thirds of the food poor individuals are found in rural areas.

    Kenya relies heavily on maize, wheat, rice and Irish potatoes for food. It is estimated that the country imports about 90% of the total rice demand and about 75% of the total wheat demand. The rest is produced locally. For example, Kenya produces most of the total maize demand itself, importing only about 10%.

    A key challenge for the country is to raise productivity in the agriculture sector. This would not only ensure food availability, but potentially lift households out of poverty. To attain this, the country must reduce reliance on rainfed agriculture systems, use modern varieties and technologies by enhancing investments in extension systems, build resilience of farmers against the effects of climate change and variability, and improve agricultural market systems and infrastructure.

    The coronavirus outbreak adds to the challenge because markets have been closed and delivery of food has been disrupted.

    Immediate challenges

    The 2019/2020 season was favourable with most parts of the country receiving above-average rainfall. But above-normal rainfall continued through the harvest period, with adverse effects.

    The agriculture ministry now estimates that 10,000 hectares of cropland were destroyed during the long rain season alone. And post-harvest losses are expected to be higher than usual because grain didn’t dry adequately in the wet weather.

    In December 2019, vast swarms of desert locusts started arriving in the country. By March 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organisation categorised the threat to the country as dangerous, because the locusts continued to breed and form new swarms.

    This is the context in which the first case of COVID-19 was announced in March. Administrative measures have included the closure of produce markets and dawn to dusk curfews.

    These were highly disruptive for food delivery. This is because Kenya’s food system is heavily dominated by small, independent transporters as the link between producers and consumers. Produce markets, which are at the heart of distribution in urban areas, serve consumers and smaller retailers. This traditional informal system accounts for about 90% of the market.

    The closure of many of these markets in the urban and peri-urban areas, while a reasonable measure to avoid crowding, has disrupted food supply systems, especially for fresh produce. The impact is felt most in low-income urban households which rely on these informal food markets.

    The same cannot be said for the middle- and higher-income families who can buy fresh produce from supermarkets and grocery shops, which remain open.

    The ministry of agriculture has now agreed to categorise transport of foodstuff as an essential service, to improve food supply in urban areas. But this is not enough. If produce markets remain closed, supply systems still aren’t working fully. About 90% of fresh fruits and vegetables are sold through these markets. A further measure should be to ensure that markets remain open all day, although at reduced capacities.

     

    Read More Via https://theconversation.com/

  • How the Country can Attain Food Security during the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Kenya faces one of the most challenging years with regards to food security. Although the country has faced food insecurity incidences in the past, the situation this year has been complicated by the Coronavirus pandemic. The country was already facing several threats to food security. First, the desert locust invasion of biblical proportion that spread quite rapidly between December 2019 and February 2020, was affecting crop and livestock production. Second, above-average rainfall experienced from October 2019 to January 2020 increased the likelihood of losses.

    The policy choice for the country is to attain self-sufficiency. However, the country is a net importer of the major staples consumed. Over the past decade, the key food security challenges were mostly about inadequacy. The most severe food security shock was between 2008 and 2009. During that period, the country was recovering from the effects of the post-election violence, when the global food price shock occurred in 2008. This was further complicated by unfavourable weather in 2009. In recent years, shocks were also experienced in 2016 and 2017.

    The current food security situation

    The country usually attains good performance in years with adequate rainfall as the majority of the producers are smallholders who rely largely on rainfed agriculture. The 2019/2020 season was favourable. Most parts of the country received above-average rainfall during the long- and short rains seasons. A good harvest was forecasted. However, above-normal rainfall was recorded through the harvest period. In the long rains season, it led to the destruction of cropland. The ministry estimates that 10,000 hectares of cropland were destroyed. The post-harvest losses, especially for cereal grains, is expected to be higher, this year, than usual due to inadequate drying of grain. In the past five years, it is estimated that the country loses an average of four million bags of maize post-harvest. In context, this is almost the entire short rains season harvest in a normal year. In addition, vast swarms of desert locust started arriving in the country and affecting the northern frontier counties from December 2019. The desert locust outbreak is complex to predict, and its mobility and feeding behaviour further complicate efforts to control it. It is estimated that swarms spread fast and can cover between 100 and 150 kilometres per day. An average swarm can comprise between 40 and 80 million locusts per square kilometre. Such a swarm can consume green vegetation (crops, pasture, fodder) in the amount that is equivalent to food enough for 35,000 people in one-day. By the end of February 2020, 17 counties had been infested, mostly the ASAL counties. Without the desert locust invasion, livestock farmers in the ASAL counties were likely to improve meat and milk productivity due to abundance of pasture. By March 2020, the FAO categorised the threat in the country as dangerous, due to continued breeding and new swarms formation that represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the long rains season.

    How has the coronavirus pandemic affected food security?

    March 2020 also saw the country record its first case of Coronavirus. By mid-March, measures for self-isolation were announced, which included the closure of schools and encouraging people to work from home. More strict measures commenced towards the end of March, including the closure of produce markets in urban areas and dawn to dusk curfews. The last two were highly disruptive for the food systems. A key challenge now is how we continue to access essential foodstuffs in light of the measures to curb the spread of the disease. Majority of foodstuff, especially the highly perishable ones like fruits and vegetables are transported to urban towns at night when the temperatures are cooler. The closure of major markets in many urban and peri-urban areas, while a reasonable measure to avoid crowding, has disrupted food supply systems especially for fresh produce in urban areas. Also, the initial exclusion of food transporters in the essential services category meant delays were experienced in getting food to destined markets. The ministry of agriculture has already announced that transporters of foodstuff are now included in the essential services category to improve food supply in urban areas.

    The disruption has mainly been on the informal food supply chains. These supply chains primarily serve low-income and informal housing estates. Fruits, vegetables and other foodstuff arrive in the designated markets which act as wholesale markets. The small retailers then get their access through these large markets and distribute to small kiosks in the estates. Although innovations such as the model used by Twiga foods have been introduced to try and improve efficiency in these chains, the traditional model which involves many actors remains dominant.

    The measures put in place to contain the virus have a huge effect on the supply chains. For example, the reduced economic activity in the hospitality industry has a huge negative effect on food demand. Significant decreases in demand would usually lead to a fall in prices offered to producers. On the other hand, if supply is disrupted and consumers are unable to enjoy place and time utility, prices would rise in an ideal scenario to reflect the shortage. However, these are not ideal or usual times. An expectation is that in addition to the overall reduction in demand, we will observe shifts in demand. For example, where workers ate lunch in a restaurant near their office in the usual case, they will now consume the same from home if they are working from home. Another shift that can be expected is the increase in consumption of dry foods such as cereals and pulses which can be stored over a longer duration. Ideally, the market is expected to adjust itself, but this happens after a period of learning and so it is not instantaneous. Also, market panic will set in when demand and supply are not predictable. Already, there are numerous instances of panic-stricken shoppers buying everything they can afford trying to ensure that they have adequate stocks. To some extent, this can lead to an increase in prices for commodities that now seem ‘scarce’.

    What past lessons can lead to sustaining food security

    The number of persons infected in the country is expected to continue rising and peak in April or May 2020 depending on the effectiveness of measures taken to curb the spread of the disease. Already, the government has issued travel restrictions to citizens in hotspot areas. All the hotspots are in urban areas. Ensuring the movement of foodstuff and access in markets is not restricted is critical to minimise the adverse effects this can have especially for poor households in urban areas.

    A key challenge for policymakers is how to bring order in the informal system. Whereas it’s easy to develop solutions for formal markets such as the institution of quotas, it is very difficult to undertake this in the informal system. For example, in 2017, the government announced a price ceiling for a 2 kg packet of maize flour, however, in the informal estates, consumers paid up to twice the ceiling price due to repacking into smaller quantities.

    In the current situation, the government must put all effort into ensuring that there are no artificial demand and supply conditions. This can be done by developing tailored solutions to different market segments. For example, the middle- and higher-income dwellers access fresh produce from supermarkets and grocery shops. Innovations such as online shopping and home deliveries are already taking traction as people try to stay at home. This should be encouraged. Conversely, such solutions would not work for the low-income and informal housing estates, who largely access their foodstuff from the informal market system. This market segment was significantly interrupted in the first few days of the curfew.

    The business as usual scenario especially for the informal markets is not practical in the current pandemic. However, if produce markets remain closed, then there is still suboptimal functioning of supply systems. A further measure should be to ensure that markets remain open all days, although at reduced capacities. There is no doubt that overcrowding must be avoided. However, measures must be put in place to ensure that all people can access food. County governments and the ministry of health should work out measures that would facilitate some functionality of produce markets. This could include having different traders on different days, restricting the numbers of people at the market at any given time and ensuring that the safe distancing guidelines are followed. Although this would increase enforcement costs, the benefits in better access and less panic are much higher.

    The other key question is on the adequacy of stocks available in the country. Currently, the planting for the long rains season is underway. The ministry has sustained measures already put in place to control desert locusts which now are a threat to the new crop that farmers are establishing. There is also need to ensure that farmers have access to inputs they need for optimal production. The ministry has also announced plans to import about 4 million bags of maize. Earlier planning for any imports is highly commendable, especially taking cognisance that the pandemic has also disrupted global food supply systems. The ministry should step up monitoring of stocks, prices and distribution systems to ensure that the government can step in where the market mechanisms fail.

    At the global level, some countries in Eastern Europe have already enforced export bans on essential staples such as wheat. The bans are being put in place with an objective of ensuring food availability in the exporting countries. Learning from the 2008 food crisis, exports ban is counterproductive. A similar measure in 2008 caused panic in food markets resulting in spikes in food prices across the world. Countries such as Kenya will be at a disadvantage if such measures are repeated.

    Additionally, there is need to track both producer and consumer prices for food. Food security, especially in the urban areas in more about access and affordability. An economic downturn is expected in the post-pandemic period. Tracking prices ensures that the government is on top of things pertaining to the support that is required for vulnerable populations, both producers and consumers alike. The government must ensure that adequate safety nets will be in place to guarantee food security for households that will be devasted economically. At the same time, the government needs to continue providing support to producers, to the extent that is realistically possible, in order to improve supply and link them to markets for their produce, particularly through e-commerce channels, whose importance is growing.

  • John Olwande

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya’s food system faced several direct and indirect challenges. The locust invasion was already destroying crops and pasture in parts of Eastern, North Eastern and Central regions and there were potentially higher than average post-harvest losses for grains because of enhanced rainfall during harvesting in the Rift Valley and parts of Western and Central regions. Besides, the country was experiencing a general economic decline, with the depreciation of the shilling making commodity imports more expensive and a general rise in price levels straining budgets for households. The manufacturing, hospitality and trade industries were especially performing poorly. The arrival of COVID-19 in the country, with the first case, confirmed on 12th March 2020, added to these challenges, and together they present a potential protracted crisis in the food system. Besides, the current floods in several parts of the country, which continue to claim human lives, destroy crops, livestock and property and damage infrastructure, compound the challenges.  While Kenya may not be new to some of these challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic is unique. It is affecting the entire globe of which Kenya’s food system is part and is thus likely to have a prolonged impact on the country’s food system. Therefore, it is important to scrutinize the potential short- and longer-term effects that the policy measures being taken to manage the pandemic will have on the food system. Alongside this, it is imperative to explore potential actions that can assure continued supply of adequate and affordable food of acceptable quality to the population.

    Kenya is implementing a range of policy measures to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. These include: restricted movement of people; countrywide dusk to dawn curfew; ban on crowds to observe social distancing; closure of institutions of learning, restaurants (now relaxed to conditional operations), bars and entertainment spaces, selected open-air markets in some counties; international passenger flights into and out of the country; and, most recently restricted cross-border movement of people and mandatory testing of truck drivers. While these measures are deemed to have helped or are expected to slow down the local transmission of the coronavirus, they are also likely to bear both immediate and longer-term undesirable impacts on the country’s food system in several ways.

    In the short-term, restricted movement of people directly disrupts operations of the food supply chain. Cessation of movement of people into and out of Nairobi and Mombasa, both large net importers of food in the country, and other counties (Kilifi, Kwale and Mandera), dusk to dawn curfew and restricted cross-border movement of people means a slower pace of trade in food and, therefore, disruption of the supply chain. While the movement of food and other cargo is not restricted, a substantial amount of food is often transported through passenger-carrying vehicles that travel both during the day and night with traders accompanying their goods. It means that traders have limited scope to travel to source their ware, transport them to the markets and sell. As majority of the population access through the informal market system, there is a direct negative effect through reduced supply of food in the market, especially perishables. Indeed, the disparity in prices of some food commodities during the first week of April 2019 and the first week of April 2020 signals distressed food supply in the market currently. For example, market information data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives show that the wholesale prices of maize, beans and green grams in Nairobi were about 38% higher in April 2020 than in April 2019, while those of Irish potatoes, onions and eggs were 15-22% higher in April 2020 than they were at the same time in the previous year.

    Restricted movement of people, reduced operating hours due to the curfew, and limited operations of eateries constrain farmers’ access to markets. Indefinite closure of institutions of learning, restrictions on social gatherings and closure of some open-air markets to observe social distancing also add to farmers’ constrained access to markets, and further reduce food supplies in markets. These mean that a broad base of farmers are likely not benefitting from the prevailing higher prices.

    In the longer-term, the policy measures and other measures by various countries can affect domestic food production and supplies in several ways. First, the closure of institutions of learning without a definite time for opening them implies uncertainty to producers and traders that often supply food to these institutions. This uncertainty can affect farmers’ decisions to produce this season with the result of depressed domestic supply of food in the coming months. This is especially so for highly perishable commodities such as vegetables. Secondly, restrictions on gatherings to enforce social distancing may affect farmers’ access to extension services, which is a critical component in food production. Extension services are commonly delivered through group approaches, and so social distancing measures may hamper farmers’ coming together in groups to receive training and agricultural advisory services this production season. In addition, the government’s advisory that civil servants who are above 58 years old to work from home may hamper extension service delivery in areas where a good number of public extension officers are in that age category. Thirdly, logistical delays disrupt efficient operation of input supply chains and can affect agricultural production. Slower pace of shipping and distribution of imports due to delays in international shipping and domestic handling at the port, increased number of roadblocks for surveillance and screening in-country and restricted trading hours because of curfew can deny farmers timely access to critical inputs. It is reported that planting fertilizer supply was not much affected for this growing season since the policy response measures to contain COVID-19 came into effect when most farmers had already purchased planting fertilizers. However, the government was not able to implement the e-voucher input subsidy programme this season as had been expected. Further, a discussion with a fertilizer distributor in Nakuru revealed that demand for CAN fertilizer, the preferred for top-dressing maize, is higher than the available stocks and farmers are forced to substitute urea for it. This indicates that the distribution of the top-dressing fertilizer is being affected by delays due to these measures and may affect production. Finally, some countries have taken actions that affect food supply in the global market. The export restrictions in their various forms are contagious and can create a ripple effect that makes large international food exporters adopt them. If that happens, we are likely to experience volatility in the global food supply and prices. This will make it difficult for net importers of food such as Kenya to access the global food market, with adverse effects on the domestic supply system and stability of prices of food.

    What can Kenya do to ensure continued availability and affordability of food in the short- and longer-term?

    In order to cushion households from job losses due to COVID-19, and thus prop purchasing power in the economy, the government has designed social safety net packages that include cash transfers to low-income households and elderly persons, reduced income taxes for individuals and lowered value-added tax on all commodities. Taxes have also been lowered for businesses. These measures are expected to enable households to continue consuming and businesses to continue providing services and employing people. While the measures are appropriate, they may not be sufficient as their scale cannot match the losses in jobs and business revenues due to the pandemic. The government estimates potential job losses of half a million in the next six months and most of these will be in the informal sector. In addition, incomes of households that significantly depend on remittances from abroad and locally are also affected by the pandemic. These suggest a potential shift in demand for food as affected households adjust their consumption patterns in response to a reduction in income. We are thus likely to see increased demand for staple foods such as maize and reduced demand for meats and fish. Therefore, there is need to closely monitor domestic stocks of staple foods with a view to taking actions to promptly replenish them. In doing that, the country should also recognize that its traditional sources of staple food imports (such as Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Mexico) are also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and so there is need to ensure that trade arrangements with these countries are effective to allow continued food imports should the need arise.

    Another short-term measure is to relax restrictions that affect food distribution. There is need to allow smoother transportation of food along the roads to reduce delays and support faster delivery of especially perishables to markets. This can be done through affirmative action that favours faster clearance of food-carrying vehicles through road checkpoints. The efforts by the Kenyan and Tanzania government to smoothen clearance along the Kenyan/Tanzania border is a case in point.

    State support to agricultural production this year should be enhanced to mitigate against long term effects. While it is evident that the public budget is constrained by the measures to manage the pandemic, enhanced support to agriculture should be at the centre of discussions on public spending. This may not be the time to rely on the global market for food supplies because of the potential for trade restrictions by countries, which may affect global supplies and prices. In addition, the relatively weak shilling will make food imports expensive, while the inflow of foreign exchange will decline due to reduced exports. Therefore, it would be a noble idea to plan well in advance to boost local production and prudently manage the output. There is need for measures to minimize post-harvest losses, provide market access to farmers, and assure an adequate supply of quality and affordable inputs and advisory services to farmers in the coming season.

  • Tegemeo participated at the inaugrual East Africa Evidence to Action (ICED) Conference held on 24th-25th May 2017. 

    Various speakers and panelists provided in-depth insight as well as practical tools that will enhance evidence based and data informed Policy and Practice in Africa.

    Many topics were covered during this inaugural conference and in line with Tegemeo's mandate of disseminating its research findings to various stakeholders, we participated in various sessions. The Institute Director Dr. Mary Mathenge led a panel of other experts from the Institute comprising of:  

    1. Dr. Mercy Kamau, MLE Director, Tegemeo Institute
    2. Dr. Lilian Kirimi, Research Director, Tegemeo Institute
    3. Dr. Timothy Njagi, M&E Specialist, Tegemeo Institute
    4. Dr. Miltone Ayieko, Outreach, Communication & Partnerships Coordinator, Tegemeo Institute

    The panel of experts discussed keys to translating Evidence to Policy and Practice: Lessons and Experiences from Agricultural Policy Research

    Besides the Tegemeo team moderating in various sessions and exhibiting part of its research products, Dr. Timothy Njagi & Dr. Mary Mathenge presented at a break out session themed Adoption of Improved Technology. Their presentation was on lessons drawn from a study on Adoption of Technology Bundles among Smallholder Maize Farmers in Kenya Evaluating Socioeconomic Impacts of Mid-altitude Maize Hybrid Varieties in KenyaDr. Mercy Kamau and Dr. Fred Bagamba presented at yet another break out session themed: Adoption of Improved Technology. Their presentation was onImproving food security through the introduction of new seed varieties: How effective are demonstration plots and field days in influencing farmers adoption behavior towards new maize and bean varieties?

    The conference was held at Park Inn Radisson Blu, Nairobi.

  • This year, multiple shocks threaten the food security situation in the country. The worst desert locust invasion in the country’s history, floods, and now the COVID-19 pandemic are key threats this year. We discuss what this means for the country in this webinar hosted by Greenpeace AfricaClick here to view the webinar  

  • Policy research is aimed at offering policy guidance by providing timely empirical information and feedback on government interventions and all other stakeholders in the agricultural sector. To achieve this objective, various activities and studies focus on the following, among others: crop and livestock value chain analysis, analysis of food/commodity prices and productivity, use of fertilizer and improved seeds, including those of drought-tolerant crops,climate variability & change, and gender issues in agriculture.

  • This entails informing public and private sector stakeholders about promising policy and investment opportunities to promote rural incomes and food security in Kenya. The relevant empirical information provided by the Institute will form a basis for meaningful discussions and interactions among researchers, policy makers,and other stakeholders. Consequently, such discussions will be based on reliable evidence based policy recommendations,which will inform and guide investment opportunities and lead to increased growth.

  • Kenya confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020. Since then, the Ministry of Health has confirmed a cumulative total of 98,432 cases of new infections, 81,255 recoveries and 1,716 deaths as of January 12, 2021. The initial response by the Kenya government was to implement a range of policy measures in efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. These included:

    • Restricted movement of people;
    • Countrywide dusk to dawn curfew;
    • Ban on dense crowds of more than 100 persons;
    • Closure of universities and schools, restaurants and other entertainment spaces, and some open-air markets, which are managed by county governments and hence the discretionary to close only some of them;
    • Ban on all inbound and outbound international flights restricted cross-border movement of people and;
    • Mandatory testing of drivers of vehicles transporting cargo over long distance.
  • Tegemeo Institute, under the Division of Research & Extension today, 11 May 2021,participated in the planting of 1,000 tree seedlings at Njoro Campus. Today’s session is part of the University’s continuous effort of environmental conservation as reflected in one of its core values, “Passion for environmental conservation.”

    Njoro River is one of the main rivers that contribute water to Lake Nakuru National Park which is a home for thousands of birds (Flamingoes), wild animals and diverse tree species. Close to 600,000 people depend on this river for drinking water as a source of livelihood. We call upon other stakeholders, notably the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) and the Nakuru County to plant more trees on the lower sections of this river to prevent loss of soils through erosion and maintain the water quality for the wildlife within the Nakuru National Park.