Kenyan women leaders have called for targeted interventions towards enhancing food security and nutrition in the country. Speaking at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, July 9, 2019, the leaders led by Kirinyaga County Governor, Anne Waiguru lamented that despite their immense contribution to the country’s food basket, women are still not food secure.
“Food insecurity not only threatens the health and well-being of the whole family, it also disenfranchises and disempowers women from being able to earn an income resulting in greater poverty outcomes for the entire community,” said Governor Waiguru.
Citing the Global Hunger Index that estimates that one in every 3 Kenyans is struggling with food insecurity, Governor Waiguru said to comprehensively tackle food insecurity, the counties need to improve market access, train small holder farmers on the importance of value addition and advocate for the full and inclusive representation of women and women’s interests in the institutions enacted in the Food Security Bill of 2017.
“The Food Security Bill of 2017 will enact new institutions such as of the Food Security Authority and County Food Security Committees. We must advocate for the full and inclusive representation of women and women’s interests in these institutions,” urged the Governor.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, said the forum provided the stakeholders with a perfect opportunity to interrogate some of the salient and critical issues that are key in enhancing the role of women in matters food and nutrition security.
“As an institution, we are keen to leverage on academia, government and industry partnerships and collaborations provided by platforms such as today’s event to ensure we offer quality training, research, innovation and entrepreneurship knowledge that can transform the lives of our people in the counties,” said Prof. Ngumi.
On the role that the University is playing to alleviate food insecurity in the country, Prof. Ngumi informed the congregation that JKUAT is implementing the Kenya National Food Fortification Programme in partnership with the Ministry of Health and other partners to address gaps in food fortification in Kenya. She said the university’s partnership with Makueni County has led to the establishment of a puree processing plant for mangoes in Kalamba, thus creating employment as well as assisting Makueni farmers to access markets.
“JKUAT is also implementing the Cricket Value Addition Project with the aim of diversifying sources of food for nutrition thus boosting the country’s food basket,” added the Vice Chancellor.
Prof. Ngumi however acknowledged that negative attitude towards agriculture remains one of the major stumbling block to the full participation of youth and women in food security and nutrition and called upon leaders, professionals, and policy makers to continuously intensify campaigns to integrate youth and women in food and agriculture value chains.
The forum dubbed, ‘The role of women in food and nutrition security’ was convened under the auspices of Embrace Women Building Bridges Initiative in partnership with JKUAT and the highlights of the day included keynote speakers, panel discussions, plenary session and exhibitions.
Among the women leaders present in the forum were Migori Women Rep, Dr. Pamela Odhiambo, Homabay Women Rep, Gladys Wanga, Kiambu Women Rep, Gathoni Wamuchomba and Muranga Women Rep, Sabina Chege among others.