, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 11 – County Governments and the private sector have been urged to link agriculture and nutrition to address concerns of malnutrition in Kenya.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri who spoke after opening a three-day agri-nutrition conference said all stakeholders should work towards achieving food security by ensuring there is food availability, access, utilization and stability.
“Malnutrition remains a major threat to food security, one of the Big Four agenda. Therefore, there is need for concerted efforts to accelerate nutritional gains through agriculture which will in turn enhance economic prosperity,” Kiunjuri said at the conference, which will highlight the investment opportunities in nutrition-sensitive agriculture.
Also present was the USAID Deputy Director in Kenya Heather Schildge who said the United States will continue to channel funds to the country to support the government’s plan of food security and nutrition.
“We are delighted to collaborate with the Government of Kenya on decreasing malnutrition. The Kenyan Government and the private sector is moving forward and we are making great gains but there is still more to do and focusing on the first 1000 days from conception to the second year of life is really critical for investing in people,” she said.
USAID Director of Agricultural Production George Odingo also said the organisation is intensifying the production and diversifying crops that are nutritious to make sure that nutritious foods get to the market.
“Nutrition is a key enabler of economic prosperity, our program is therefore creating awareness to farmers to plant crops which are nutrition dense,” said Odingo.
According to USAID, malnutrition contributes to over 50 per cent of child mortality globally.
The statistics show that one third of malnourished children are in Africa.
It also emerges that three out of 10 Kenyans lack good nutrition for proper growth and development.
Also, about 26 per cent of children below five years of age are stunted, too short for their age, implying that they don’t eat the right type of food and in sufficient quantities, and only 22 per cent of children between 6 to 23 months are adequately fed.
This damages life chances and reduces the potential for communities and the economy.