Kenya is a food insecure country, we import over half of our food mostly from our food secure neighbours which leaves us to question our priorities as a republic. Currently we are suffering a huge shortage of grains like maize, rice, wheat etc forcing us to import expensive food from Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa etc
Reasons for this are
- Weak Land Policy; Since pre-independence period ownership of land has been a major issue in Kenya and it has slowly affected agriculture negatively. A good chunk of the land occupied by the British was never returned to the original owners and this has resulted in land-related conflict especially in the major food baskets of Kenya. A significant part of this highly arable land is lying idle while it can be used to shorten the current food deficit.
- Corruption; In Africa, Kenya is one of the most corrupt nation with the government playing full part in graft and misuse of public assets especially land. A lot of highly productive land in Kenya is grabbed or is just illegally acquired. Furthermore, most of this land is idle with no developments whatsoever awaiting speculative prices to shoot up. The ministry of lands is one of the most corrupt offices and this has led to people controlling land they should not leaving discrepancies.
- Climate Change; Over the last several years, Agriculture in Kenya has been rain fed and dependent on the prevailing climatic conditions and weather patterns. With today’s climate change, this practise has been very unsuccessful in terms of food production starvation. Farming methods we used 10 years ago are somewhat irrelevant given the changing climatic and weather conditions.
- Poor Farming Methods; Slow adaptation to mechanization of agriculture has left most Kenyan farmers lagging behind the curve. The pick and hoe system is the order of the day which has also affected yields drastically.
- Rural–Urban Migration; The best minds from rural settlements often leave for the big cities in search of white collar and blue collar jobs leaving the farms with lack of skilled and energetic manpower leaving the old to do the farming.
- Poor Government Support; In the 1960s and 1970s, agriculture in Kenya was highly subsidized by the Kenyatta government and food was in abundance. When President Moi ruled for 24 years, these subsidies dwindled, yields plummeted. Even today, agriculture gets only around 3% of the budget while almost 75% goes to government recurrent expenditure.
I am sure I have not exhausted the points so feel free to add your thought on the comments section below