54-year-old Alice Khanjila is among the empowered smallholder farmers who have embraced sweet potato farming and are enjoying bumper harvests in Western Kenya. PHOTO | IRENE SINOYA | NMG
- With Kenya’s population expected to hit 80 million by 2040, the country’s food production is not expanding in tandem with this exponential increase in the number of mouths to feed.
- Achieving this quantum leap in food production to curb hunger requires concerted action focused on innovative approaches to enhancing farm productivity.
- Sustainable farming refers to food production methods that improve productivity but at the same time reduce negative environmental impacts like emission of Greenhouse Gases.
According to the UN, an estimated two billion people did not have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in 2019. More than 650 million people or 8.9 percent of the human population sleeps hungry everyday with another 750 million exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.
With Kenya’s population expected to hit 80 million by 2040, the country’s food production is not expanding in tandem with this exponential increase in the number of mouths to feed.
For example, a study by the University of Denver in the US projects that food consumption in Kenya will outstrip production by 20 million metric tonnes by 2040 meaning 25 per cent of our food will have to be imported.
Another study by the Institute for Security Studies shows that Kenya’s annual food production needs to grow by 75 percent based on 2015 levels to match consumption by the year 2030.
Achieving this quantum leap in food production to curb hunger requires concerted action focused on innovative approaches to enhancing farm productivity. But apart from increasing the quantity of food to be eaten, we must also focus on improving its nutritional value.
This is because an estimated 36.5 per cent of Kenya’s population is food insecure, 35 per cent of children under five years are chronically malnourished, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Hence the need to intensify partnerships between public and private sectors in promoting sustainable farming as the pathway to enhanced food sufficiency and quality in the country.
Sustainable farming refers to food production methods that improve productivity but at the same time reduce negative environmental impacts like emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHG), soil nutrient losses and destruction of natural habitats to create room for expanded agricultural activity.
Indeed, some studies have shown that reducing negative environmental externalities of agriculture through better farming practices has incremental long-term benefits for communities and the economy.
However, financing remains the missing link in the transition to sustainable agriculture.
For this reason, banks are an integral pillar in the agricultural value chain in terms of creating financial products that facilitate improved productivity and innovation in crop and livestock production.
They are also well-positioned to partner with institutions involved in providing knowledge and technical skills to farmers in enhancing the nutritional value of the food we consume.
With a growing number of micro and medium enterprises venturing into the agriculture value chain either in crop and animal husbandry production or value addition, this represents a huge opportunity for us to work with like-minded partners in strengthening our agri-business portfolio, but also contributing to Kenya’s food security and nutrition goals.
It is the duty of lenders to help advance the global sustainable development goals, in particular achieving Zero Hunger, achieve food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture.
This content was originally published here.