NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – Kenya has developed the necessary policies to support a proper framework to enhance food productivity in order to improve the nutrition status of its people, Deputy President William Ruto has said.
Speaking during the launch of the Initiative for Food and Nutrition in Africa (IFNA) held at a Nairobi Saturday, Ruto said for any nation to improve the nutrition status of its people, it must ensure food security.
Welcoming the IFNA initiative for Africa, the Deputy President said agriculture and rural development is key to achievement of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and a solution to malnutrition.
“To improve the nutrition status of the people, we must enhance productivity to ensure affordable food,” said Ruto.
He said chronic food and nutrition security remains a great national human and economic development challenge for many African countries.
The Deputy President said by subscribing to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement in 2012 and through our participation in the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme, Kenya has increased opportunities for strengthening its efforts and capacity to boost nutrition.
“A specific percentage of budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector has brought about considerable stability, continuity and effectiveness in this regard,” said Ruto.
He said the government’s multi-sectoral approach to improving nutrition leverages global momentum, enabling the country to move faster towards achieving its goals on matters of nutrition.
“Our focus is on building an innovative, commercially oriented and modern farm sector with irrigation infrastructure as a priority,” he said.
Ruto said Kenya is endowed with such plentiful natural resources that it has the capacity to be Africa’s breadbasket and the Government was prioritizing the development of agriculture by putting one million acres of land under irrigation.
He said Kenya’s National Food and Nutrition Security Policy, which was developed in 2012 indicates that about half of the country’s population of 38.5 people are poor, with 7.5 million of them living in extreme poverty.
“As a result, our Demographic and Health Survey, as at 2014 shows that 26 percent of our children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition,” said the Deputy President.
Ruto said the raft of policy documents is closely aligned with Kenya’s National Vision2030, the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and the UN SDGs.
He said the attainment of adequate nutrition for the optimum health of all Kenyans was the Government’s priority.
“Preventing malnutrition delivers returns of up to $16 (Sh1,600) for every one US dollar spent. There is abundant motivation to invest significantly in adequate nutrition,” said Ruto.
He said the government also seeks to increase the quantity and quality of food available and make it accessible and affordable to all Kenyans at all times.
Dr Shinichi Kitaoka, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) called for concerted efforts in addressing chronic malnutrition across the globe.
He urged African countries to support IFNA initiatives saying malnutrition was still a major challenge in the continent compared to other continents.
He said JICA would continue to support efforts geared towards boosting food production in the continent as a measure to improving the nutrition status of the people.
“I encourage African countries to come up with prudent measures to ensure children get health meals for their productive healthy,” said Kitaoka.