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Tegemeo at the 5th Annual Devolution Conference, 23rd-27th April 2018

As a leading agricultural policy research Institution in Kenya and the African region, Tegemeo Institute was selected and participated in the 5th Annual Devolution Conference multi-stakeholder planning committee that identified the theme and subthemes that were discussed in the agricultural sessions. Leveraging on its rich panel data which dates back to 1997, the Institute provided valuable information covering agricultural production statistics locally and in the region. Among the data provided were cost of production, national and regional production and productivity trends, commodity price trends over time and public expenditures and budgetary allocation to agriculture. This was an invaluable input to the sector and the county governments during this era of knowledge based economy.

The theme of the Devolution Conference was “Sustainable, Productive, Effective and Efficient Governments for Results Delivery”, which was aligned with the national government’s ‘Big Four’ agenda. Tegemeo Institute’s Director, Dr. Miltone Ayieko and the Institute’s Monitoring Learning and Evaluation Unit Director, Dr. Mercy Kamau participated at the conference. Dr. Ayieko was part of a panel of experts selected to participate in the agriculture sector conference meeting themed, ‘Enablers towards Achieving Food Security’ with the objective of discussing strategic policy and technological interventions that enhance agricultural productivity and access to food. 

During the conference meeting on agriculture that took place on Wednesday 25th April 2018, the Tegemeo Director, Dr. Ayieko made a presentation titled, ‘Strategic Interventions by the Private Sector and Research to Achieve 100% Food Security’. He noted that while the achievement of the desired food security level is possible, myriad of challenges hinder it. These include: a poorly performing agriculture due to low soil quality, over reliance on rain-fed agriculture, pre-and post-harvest losses and underfunding of the sector; and, market access barriers characterized by poor infrastructure, high cost of doing business and lack of market information and an early warning system. Other significant challenges he highlighted include: constraints to research such as low investment in agricultural research, weak links between research and farmers, collapsing extension systems, poor enforcement of IPRs and low uptake of research evidence by policy makers in decision making. He further noted that the private sector which plays a key role in enhancing food security and access in the nation is also constrained due to high costs of doing business, poor infrastructure, barriers to trade as well as the existing competition with the public sector leading to market distortions.

In line with the Institute’s mandate of providing evidence based advice to policy makers to help formulate appropriate policies, Dr. Ayieko highlighted the following strategies towards achieving 100% food security in the nation. These include: deliberate investments in the agriculture sector through development of irrigation and sustainable land management; extension of support towards research in new technologies; enhancement of the whole value chain productivity; development of effective pre- and post-harvest management strategies; strengthening extension services; establishment of climate smart agriculture programs; promotion of drought tolerant crops as well as diversification of crop enterprises. In addition, he noted there is need to enhance food access through poverty reduction; increase in trade and market access such as through inter-county and intra-county initiatives; strengthening of producer organizations as well as the role of women and youth participation in socio-economic decision making, that affect household livelihood opportunities; strengthening early warning systems and putting in place emergency preparedness and disaster management schemes; rethinking the strategic food reserves (consider a balance between physical and virtual stocks); enhancing private sector participation in input & output markets, development of value chains, provision of finance and transfer of technologies.

The annual devolution conference meeting on agriculture also addressed interventions that can be used to transition the nation from production oriented actions to actions that address the total factor productivity. On this, there is need for: investment in credible evidence and knowledge transfer through the adoption of results-based monitoring and evaluation systems; an emphasis on accountability; and, an investment in a learning culture. This will increase the potential in the sector as lessons are drawn from the achievements and failures of initiated programs and projects and used for future decision making and implementation. The conference was held in Kakamega County, from 23rd to 27th April 2018, bringing together key stakeholders in Kenya.

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