Policy Formulation, Implementation Key to Transform Food Systems

A section of the participants during the third and final virtual roundtable. The three-part series attracted close to 100 participants from academia, government and private sector

As the adage goes, all good things must come to an end, the third and final virtual roundtable meeting organized by JKUAT and Biovision Foundation was staged, October 6, 2021.

The virtual roundtable series (First series, April 2021  and Second Series July 2021) aimed to provide a platform to discuss pathways for transforming agricultural research funding towards more sustainability, in line with agro-ecological principles.

The three-part series dubbed ‘Transforming agricultural research funding towards sustainability’ brought together experts from national and international organizations, academia, government, civil society, farmers and private sector who shared their own experience and perspectives with regards to transforming the food systems.

The President, Biovision Foundation, Dr. Hans Herren was adamant that in order to transform the food systems in the world, it is vital to create an enabling policy environment for policy formulation guided by science.

“We need the right environment and bring the right people to inform policy, including our parliamentarians who will give voice on these policies informed by our researchers and key stakeholders,” said Dr. Herren

He further said there is need to put agroecology as a guiding principle in transforming the food systems.

“It is sad to see research funding going down across the globe at a time when food security is under threat from a growing population and changing climate. To curb this, it is becoming increasingly clear that agro-ecology is the best solution to enhance our food systems,” said Dr. Herren.

Emphasizing on involving the youth in agriculture, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukusta said it is paramount to involve the youth if we want to transform agriculture in the region.

“It is a high time we make agriculture rewarding and use every available avenue including the media to disseminate the importance of agriculture and food security to encourage the uptake of agriculture among the youth,” said Prof. Abukutsa.

Speaking as a youth local farmer, Director, Onetouch Farming Systems Mr. Gabriel Litunya Akali urged policymakers to develop a policy that links the donors, NGOs, research institutions including universities and local farmers.

“Our research institutions have novel research output that unfortunately some do not reach the local farmer on the ground. Policies need to be developed to ensure there is effective and efficient technology transfer to better the livelihood of the local farmers hence growing the economy,” stated Mr. Akali.

As presented by Dr. Robert Mbeche of JKUAT, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, the three series roundtable discussion had a number of recommendations including; aligning food system research toward sustainable development; increasing and shifting agricultural and food system research funding by strengthening currently neglected research areas; enhancing collaboration for integrated transdisciplinary participatory research to scale up agriculture and food systems innovations; rooting all forms of research funding in national policy and research priorities to enhance ownership; and assessing and monitoring the impact of investment in research.

The three-part virtual roundtable series was moderated by the Dean, School of Food and Nutrition Sciences, Prof. Daniel Sila who said agricultural research is critical in developing sustainable agricultural practices and policies towards achieving greater sustainability, equity and resilience.

At the culmination of the series, participants committed to continue with the conversation of transforming agricultural research funding towards sustainability in their qualified capacities and networks.

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