AGRF 2021 Summit: President Kenyatta rallies African nations to invest in more resilient food systems
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday rallied African nations to accelerate efforts aimed at attaining greater food security on the continent.
Speaking when he hosted this year’s virtual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) summit at State House, Nairobi, the President called on African leaders to prioritise initiatives that will cause inclusive agricultural transformation.
He said Kenya was committed to the agenda of transforming its food systems by re-engineering the country’s agriculture to leverage more on its large and vibrant youth population.
“Equally important to note is that our renewed drive anchors our food systems transformation agenda on data-driven decisions. Armed with relevant and precise data, we are better able to make targeted interventions that address water-scarcity, climate change, land pressure, and the competition between subsistence food crops and export cash crops,” the President said.
The President told the meeting, attended by several African Heads of State and Government, that Kenya was working on increasing the number of young people receiving school-based agricultural education and growing the uptake of digital agricultural solutions among farmers.
“In order to overcome these negative perceptions and to show our children and youth the nobility and profitability of agriculture, we are elevating the place of agriculture in our schools by revitalizing the 4-K-Clubs.
“We are doing this because Kenya’s 31,218 primary schools and their enrollment of close to 10 million school-going children, offers a vast network through which knowledge about food and nutrition security, can be boosted,” the President said.
Further, the President said Kenya was determined to expand the diversity and quality of diets available to its population by investing more in fruits, vegetable, dairy, meat, fish and grain production as well as heighten climate action to strengthen the resilience of the country’s food systems.
The Head of State decried the perception among African youth that agriculture was an outdated occupation saying Kenya had put in place aggressive measures to attract young people back to farming.
Speakers at the virtual meeting, among them Presidents Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi), Hage Geingob (Namibia), and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed as well as Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, decried Africa’s weak food systems despite the continent’s abundant nutritional resources endowment.
Kenya is currently taking part in two important global events: The AGRF 2021 Summit and the Global 4H Digital Summit.
The AGRF 2021 Summit is an annual event, and this year’s theme aims to find ways to recover and create sustainable food systems globally.
The Global 4H Digital Summit, on the other hand, addresses the problems that young people have faced since the start of the COVID pandemic, and calls on all young people across the globe to ‘stay connected’.
For Kenya, both events hold particular relevance because there’s a common thread that links them: The 4K Clubs. The 4K Clubs are all about finding solutions towards a food secure future by involving young people in agriculture and related activities.
Since President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the 4-K Clubs in June 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Cooperatives has been working tirelessly to ensure a successful rollout countrywide.
The launch, as well as the rollout activities, depend on a large network of stakeholders, at county and national level, both in the private and public sectors. The ministry continues to work with strategic partners both locally and internationally in order to ensure the country’s rollout is successful.
These efforts by the ministry have not gone unnoticed. In July 2021, for instance, Chief Administrative Secretary at the ministry, Ms. Anne Nyaga, was appointed to represent the East African region at the Global 4-H Network Board. She will be speaking at both the AGRF Summit and the 4H Summit.
Responding to questions during a panel discussion, President Kenyatta outlined the actions taken by Kenya to boost the country’s food security within the Big Four economic blueprint.
He said since 2013, Kenya had focused on attaining 100 percent food and nutrition security through crop diversification, e-voucher programmes that support staple crops, livestock and dairy value chains.
Further, the Head of State said Kenya had prioritized growing of indigenous food crops and vegetables, developing seed systems for sorghum, millet and cassava as well as establishing flour blending and fortification policies.