SLAYING THE HUNGER DRAGON:UNDER-FED,UNDER-NOURISHED KENYANS
SHAME on Kenya. The country famous for long distance runners is also on the list of countries that face perennial food shortages. The government of Kenya estimates that, out of a population of around 40 million people, almost 2 million Kenyans are currently faced with food insecurity.
The global perspective is even worse. The World Food Program estimates that world-wide, almost 1 billion people survive on less than $1.25 income per day. Of these, 800 million people experience food shortages.
This is a sad 21st century commentary when science and technology can place humans on the surface of the moon but apparently cannot ensure that every living person on planet Earth can access affordable and nutritious food.
A daily income of $1.25 in Kenya converts to approximately Kenya Shillings 110. So, if Wanjiku goes shopping with Kshs. 110, the only item in her food basket will be a 2 kilogram packet of maize flour which costs between Kshs. 80 and Kshs 90. A litre of milk in the supermarket costs almost Ksh 100 and this will be beyond Wanjiku’s reach.
For a complete and graphic picture of poverty in Kenya, add sukumawiki, salt, sugar and cooking fat to Wanjiku’s shopping list. What you will get is an under-fed and an under-nourished Wanjiku.
With an estimated 3 per cent annual growth in population, Kenya will soon be struggling to feed 50 million people. This sporting nation in Eastern Africa must urgently address poverty and hunger which could pose serious threat to national peace and security in the near future.
Firstly, our old-hat technology of the hoe and the machete may be hurting production in small scale farming. Secondly, the continued sub-division of the arable land into even smaller units due to population growth is not sustainable in the long run.
Although Kenya has a capitalist or free market economy and land is sold on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis, it may be advisable for the government to re-introduce minimum acreage of high potential agricultural holdings. If not, we risk turning the country into a huge food-importing village.
Thirdly, since food insecurity is a result of poverty, we need programs that put money in the pockets of vulnerable groups like elderly women and men, infants and children. In the US, the food stamps program ensures that no one goes to bed hungry.
To eliminate wastage at the farm level, we should encourage local cottage industries that add value through processing of potato chips, butter, ghee, frozen vegetables and meats. Australia and New Zealand are good example. Finally, let us crunch some numbers. Assuming we have a total student population of 6 million in the country and each eats an egg a week, how many eggs would Kenya need in a year? How many chicken scoops would the country require? How many day-old chicken would be needed? How much chicken feed? How many jobs would be created? Yes We Can do it.
By Leonard Njoroge:Diaspora Messenger Contributor-Email: [email protected]