Monday, October 19, 2015

World Food Day celebrations reiterate importance of social protection

By Bob Aston
Laikipia County led by Governor, Hon Joshua Irungu joined the rest of the world in marking World Food Day at Mr. Philip Kariuki’s farm at Ol-Jabet, Marmanet Ward on October 16, 2015. The theme for this year’s event was “Social protection and Agriculture: Breaking the cycle of rural poverty.”
The day is marked worldwide to heighten public awareness of world food security and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. On this, day countries take stock and celebrate the strides made towards eradication of these scourges as well as strengthen the resolve to address them.
Governor Irungu in sky blue coat at one of the exhibition stands

This year’s theme highlights the importance of social protection in tackling vulnerabilities faced by rural households and its role in improving food and nutrition security as well as educing rural poverty.

Among the exhibitors included Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP), Syngenta Kenya, Tree Is Life Trust (TILT), Cimbria East Africa Ltd, Department of Fisheries Development, Nyandarua Institute of Science and Technology, Elgon Kenya Ltd, Bayer CropScience, Pionner Hi-Bred Kenya Ltd and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society.
Speaking during the celebrations, Hon Irungu said that Investing in agriculture remains the most effective way to lift people out of poverty in rural areas.
“Today we are sharing our successes, challenges and our plans going forward. 2015 World Food Day relies on strength of social protection on agriculture,” said Hon. Irungu.
He noted that access to adequate, safe, and nutritious food is a universal and fundamental human right thus created and reinforced in a number of binding international protocol such as the 1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action, and the Millennium Development Goal.
In 2014-2015 and the current financial year the agriculture sector implemented projects in Laikipia County are worth 40 million. Through the projects, the County Government intends to cushion farmers against extreme circumstances and unfavorable environment
Students learning about maize production
He noted that although the assistance was mainly in kind, the main intention is to give farmers support in their effort to build social protection. Some of the support included distribution of drought tolerant crops like beans, dolichos, and chickpeas totaling 1.5 tonnes.
 The United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared 16th October of every year as World Food Day (WFD) to honor the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945.
He urged farmers to diversify and plant drought tolerant crops and adopt conservation agriculture. The County has also provided high value fruit trees like mangoes, avocadoes, oranges, and macadamia.
He said that the County Government has promoted 30 conservation agriculture groups in Laikipia County by supporting them with 5kgs of seeds, 135 bags of fertilizer, 180 litres of herbicides and sprayers.
The County Government has also subsidized fertilizer. Farmers have been able to benefit through disbursement of more than 23,000 bags of fertilizer.
Governor Irungu at the Pionner Hi-Bred Kenya Ltd exhibition stand
Mr. Martin Mwangi, Chief Officer, Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries Development noted that the ministry has embraced demand driven service and they are eager to listen to farmers. He said that they have embarked on a four-year plan targeting 10,000 households to ensure improved food security in the county.
“We are now promoting dry land crops because of climate change. We are targeting youth farmers as they are the future leaders and we have formed Laikipia Youth Agriculture Farmer Platform to champion the interest of youth farmers,” said Mr. Mwangi.
Social protection is a blend of policies, programmes, and interventions that aim at protecting poor and food-insecure people by lifting them out of poverty and hunger.
Through a variety of programmes that provide financial or in-kind support to poor and vulnerable people, social protection enhances their income, capacities, and rights. They can be social assistance, social insurance, or labour market programmes.
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