Food systems worldwide are encountering an unparalleled array of interlinked sustainability challenges. There is an increasingly shared agreement regarding the necessity for a fundamental overhaul in the methods of food production, processing, distribution, and consumption.
To cultivate fresh perspectives and knowledge about the strategies for accomplishing such transformative changes, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), in collaboration with the USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture Consortium led by the University of California, Davis, is embarking on a research initiative dubbed, ‘Determining the Trade-offs Between Short and Long Horticulture Value Chain in Kenya.’
The research project will be carried out by a team from JKUAT for a period of 30 months focusing on three fruits and vegetable value chains in eight selected counties based on the production and economic importance.
During the project inception workshop held at JKUAT, August 25, 2023, Principal Investigator, Prof Willis Owino, said the objective of the research project is to investigate the nutritional, economic and social impacts on producers along both short and long value chain of mango, tomato and cowpea.
“Incorporation and benefits of Information and Communication Technologies within these value chains are pivotal points we aim to ascertain,” said Prof. Owino.
He further underscored the project’s larger aspiration of influencing policy and operational changes that foster resilient community food systems and facilitate social transformation, at both county and national levels.
The two-day workshop brought together policymakers at both national and county levels, small-scale farmers, traders and value chain actors from Kirinyaga, Machakos, Makueni, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kwale, Kisumu and Homa Bay counties.
During the opening of the workshop, JKUAT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi urged the project to generate evidence-based solutions saying “Investments directed towards the enhancement of fruits and vegetables value chains can yield substantial improvements in production and consumption. Achieving this necessitates innovative, cooperative, and evidence-driven solutions.”
Recognizing the vital role that fruits and vegetables play as sources of nutrition and income for smallholder farmers, Prof. Ngumi emphasized the necessity of promoting the increased cultivation and consumption of diverse produce.
“Realizing this objective requires a convergence of strategic interventions aimed at augmenting availability, cost-effectiveness and demand for these nourishing agricultural yields,” said Prof. Ngumi in a speech read by the Principal, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Prof. Daniel Sila.
Dr. Erin Mcquire, the Director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture, reiterated the project’s intention to deepen understanding of the extent to which Information and Communication Technologies are adopted and employed in the selection of horticulture value chains.
She further noted that the project aims to furnish empirical insights into sustainable pathways within the horticulture sector that contribute to market stability.
The inception workshop featured presentations by Sub-County Agricultural Officers detailing the status of the three fruit and vegetable value chains within the eight counties. There were also panel discussions on opportunities and challenges encountered by the cowpea value chain, as well as engaging Focus Group Discussions.