Kenya National Policy Dialogue by CGIAR’s Ukama Ustawi Initiative targets climate-resilient agriculture and more

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    CGIAR Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern Africa
  • Published on
    23.11.22

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Bridging knowledge and coordination gaps for resilient maize production and a better enabling environment for agribusiness and trade that will prosper livelihoods.

(Nairobi, November 21, 2022) Maize accounts for 65 percent of calories consumed by Kenyan households, 40 percent of crop area, and is mainly cultivated by smallholders. It provides the backbone of agriculture in Kenya. But erratic rainfall, surging temperature, and increasingly frequent extreme weather linked to climate change are disrupting maize production and supply chain and badly impacting smallholder livelihoods.

While maize production in Kenya has been declining since the 1990s, market failures prevent the efficient distribution of maize from surplus to deficit areas: traders often lack incentives to move maize, leading producers to encounter difficulties finding buyers. Moreover, due to insufficient domestic production, Kenya is overly reliant on maize imports from Ethiopia and Tanzania, lacking self-sufficiency in maize, a staple food crop. Climate change aggravates this situation, making farmers increasingly vulnerable to food and income insecurities.

The needed policy response is a combination of approaches, including sustainable maize-mixed crop intensification, efficient management of scarce natural resources, trade incentives to mobilize market forces, diversification into other agricultural sub-sectors, and innovative food distribution systems. A concerted effort by the key stakeholders can help Kenya emerge as a maize exporter to the region, bring in new trade opportunities, and achieve middle-income status, as outlined in the country’s Vision 2030 statement.

The national policy dialogue organized by the CGIAR initiative Ukama Ustawi: Diversification for Resilient Agrifood Systems in East and Southern Africa (ESA) led by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) South Africa, in collaboration with its partners FANRPAN and KIPPRA, invited diverse policy stakeholders, including senior government officials, researchers, farmers, agribusinesses, and donors, to discuss the potential pathways to achieve sustainable maize intensification, diversification, agribusiness, and trade. Stakeholders echoed their experience in discussing how to bridge knowledge and coordination gaps and influence the enabling policy and investment environment to help livelihoods prosper.

“CGIAR has a longstanding history of policy support work in Kenya. Our aim under UU is not to reinvent the wheel but build on these efforts and identify quick wins to help strengthen the enabling environment. The national policy dialogue helped us refine our priorities to do just that,” said Dr. Inga Jacobs-Mata, UU Initiative Lead and Regional Representative, IWMI, Southern Africa.

Insights gathered during the dialogue will inform the Kenyan government and the public through technical reports, policy briefs, blog pieces, and advisory notes. Insights will also be shared with the ESA Policy Hub and the initiative partners, along with CCARDESA and ASARECA, to scale innovative solutions to the regional level to address food and income security challenges through regional trade.

“Through a consultative process in Kenya, the Ukama Ustawi Initiative of CGIAR in East and Southern Africa hopes to build on the established governance and policy work of previous and existing CGIAR initiatives and partner programs and provide targeted and tailored enabling environment support,” Dr. Jacobs-Mata added.

The first National Policy Dialogue under the Ukama Ustawi Initiative took place in Lusaka, Zambia, in August 2022.

For more information, please contact Ms Ngowenani Nohayi, Research Officer – Policy and Water Governance, IWMI South Africa (Ext: +27-12-845-9100)

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