The Kenyan Food Security Bill

The Food Security Bill is being championed by Senator Beatrice Elachi who graced the Jesuit Hakimani Center (JHC) conference. She outlined the main arguements in the bill.

The bill is being proposed pasuant to article 43(1)(c) of the constitution. The article states that every person has the right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of an adequate quality.

In responding to the constitutional call, the bill addresses issues of access. Where acccess may be obtained by production, purchase or through programmes implemented by the State. Secondly it defines adequate food as food available in a in quality and quantity sufficient to meet the dietary needs, acceptable in a given culture and free from adverse substances. The bill consideres specifically the vulnerable populations, the elderly and the infirm as those requiring special attention. It establishes a Food Security Authority in the country which will operate under the ministry of devolution.

The main aim of the bill is to provide a framework which will guide the country to freedom from hunger. This will be done by promoting sustainable production systems, that will lead to food sustanance and security for all persons in Kenya. There will be a coordinated structure all the way from the counties to the national government.

According to Hon Kiraitu Murungi, the bill borrows from experiences of other countries such as China and India where food insecurity is a thing of the past. These countries have invested in high yielding varieties of rice whose production ability is six times that of Kenya. Secondly policy makers contend that the traditional small scale agriculture is not viable. The government has to think of reclusterization of people in communities so as people may leave adequate land for cultivation. In order to achieve food security, the government will need to elevate agriculture investments to the same level it does on national security. Massive investments will therefore have to be made on irrigation, science and technology, providing subsidies to farmers and related needed infrastructure.

On small scale irrigation equipment, the government would provide subsidies to enable the small holders access them. Examples were given of the Malawi and Israel govenments that subsidized the irrigation equipments. This made so many farmers acquire these equipments either individually or through cooperatives. In this case, the irrigation equipment should be considered as part of public infrastructure.

An important question remains on whether the country should accept GMOs. The GMOs seem to have found favour among people with American origin. People with a European leaning tend to be against it. The main contention on the GMO is safety and sovereignity and the fear of the fact that food control will be relagated to the market forces. The fears are not about bio-technology as bio technology is also within the non GMO technologies. Within Kenya however the issue of food security must be addressed along the lines of safety and sovereignlity.

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