Consider clustering for sustainable food production

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security. Photo/PD/file

The Paris Accord recognises the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger and it is cognizant of particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impact of climate change.

The agreement has over 200 parties as signatories, all with different abilities, but all aware that each of their actions contributes to making or breaking the process of transforming global food systems.

The existence of such global effort bringing together stakeholders to work collaboratively to ensure sustainable development goals are attained attest to the necessity of clustering strategy.

Clustering, a processing of putting together issues and things of similar type, must be embraced to solve global intricate challenges.

It is evident that local, national, regional and global challenges are intertwined hence the need for comprehensive strategies to ensure collective actions by various stakeholders from the remotest part of the world count in the process of restoration.

The United Nation, epitomises clusterisation strategy. The body is on the frontline urging collective actions from all levels by all stakeholders to achieve the 17 sustainable Development Goals.

  For Kenya to achieve sustainable food production while transforming food systems, clustering must be considered in different areas, issues and policies.

One, clustering of counties must be given priority. The 47 counties in Kenya are unique in their own ways but some share similar ecological zones.

This could allow amalgamating counties in terms of production of particular products.

For instance, counties in Rift Valley are known to produce maize grain, therefore, they can be grouped and be given necessary assistance to enhance productivity.

Two, there is a need to cluster products and comparative advantage.

Even though maize is an important food staple in Kenya, there is a need for diversity if we are to be food secure.

Cassava and Potatoes and many others could be the alternative to reduce dependence on maize.

Grouping counties with suitable ecological conditions to grow different crops will promote specialisation and diversity, which will enhance food availability and accessibility.

Three, clustering of research institutions is important to generate specific findings and recommendations on different issues to the right audience.

One monumental failure in Kenya has been disharmony between scientific research and policy formulation and implementation.

It will be important to ensure research organisations and think tanks are aligned to different national issues and challenges.

For example, with the impact of climate change, better varieties of crops that can withstand different environmental stress becomes critical; but this requires constant research to develop new varieties as environmental conditions change.

Four, clustering government departments and institutions is another critical exercise to ensure better cooperation and collaboration.

It is a fact that the working of government departments and institutions has for long been structured in silos.

This means what happens in one ministry or institution is not understood by another, thus creating serious bottlenecks in sharing data and other important information, hence hampering economic development.

Taking devolution as a nuclear of clustering strategy, it is now time to start looking into how to transform policies to facilitate sustainable clusterisation and specialisation to transform food systems.

With the fourth schedule of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya as the guiding post, a comprehensive working formula must be set out to ensure all actions and policies are synchronised to ensure an effective working relationship between the two levels of government.

Development projects in various regions must be informed by local needs.

This means researchers must translate and articulate their findings and recommendations in a manner that could inform decisions of both citizens and governments on the best path to development. — The writer is an international food systems policy analyst

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