NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – The country’s market economy needs to undergo a surgical review if the nation’s food security is to be assured, a policy analyst has said.
Mzalendo Trust Director Jessica Musila has said most citizens are unable to take advantage of existing economic opportunities to generate income that could shield them from the current famine.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of survey findings on poverty and household economic issues released by Twaweza East Africa on Tuesday, Musila said most food resources in the country remained underutilized with little effort being made to curb wastage.
“I keep seeing poverty in the midst of plenty because there’s a lot of food that grows up in different parts of the country including mangoes and oranges for instance in Makueni county but they have been rooting on the trees,” Musila stated.
“But if there was a market economy geared to that, people in such areas will not be dying of hunger because they would be able to utilize the resource they have better,” she added.
She noted that the vast majority of the country’s population was still trapped in the traditional forms of food like maize and beans instead of focusing on other alternatives that could give them better yields in hostile climatic conditions found in arid and semi-arid areas.
“We need to have a real conversation about food that is already existent that we ignore. Today some food varieties grow almost naturally but people ignore it and say this is not food,” she noted.
According to Musila, the country need to consider other food items that do better in the arid and semi arid areas while at the same time proving the much needed food nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals – in order to win the war against food insecurity.
“We need to interrogate our relationship with maize and beans because why should somebody be struggling to grow stunted maize yet in the same area cassava and sorghum will flourish?”
The study by Twaweza East Africa revealed that forty three per cent of Kenyans sampled went to bed without eating for the whole day due to lack of money.
Another sixty five per cent told the pollster that they had skipped a meal in the past three months at the time the survey was being conducted.
A total of 1,739 respondents took part in the in the opinion poll conducted between September 23 and October 11,2016.
At least 2.7 million Kenyans are said to be facing starvation in 23 Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL) counties with majority of those affected being the elderly, nursing mothers and children according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA).