Food Security Policy and Climate Change. Harun Ogindo. Background and Definitions: Food security.
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Food Security: “a person, household or community, nation or region is food secure when all members at all times have physical and economic access to buy, produce, obtain or consume sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life” (World Bank, ).
A food system is a set of dynamic interactions between and within bio-geophysical and human environments that influences both activities and outcomes all along the food chain (production, storage and processing, distribution, exchange, preparation and consumption).
Acute food insecurity: the consequence of extreme events, such as severe drought exacerbated by conflict, which exceeds the capacity of the h/hold and community to cope.
Chronic food insecurity: a reflection of poverty and due to daily insufficiency in both caloric and micronutrient intake throughout the year.
Climate - Average weather conditions (taken over a period not less than 30 years)
Climate variability - Year to year fluctuation including seasonal variations in the climate parameters.
Climate Change: A change in the long-term meteorological average itself, whatever the cause, i.e. a change from one climate mode to another climate mode, which is outside the normal range of natural climate variability.
Adaptation: “Adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities” (IPCC, 2001)
A policy is regarded as a set of coherent decisions with a common long-term purpose(s) (UNEP, 2006). Policies are rules governing the interaction between human beliefs, values and ideas, and the physical environment. Thus policies provide directives by which individuals or groups of individuals in a society are expected to wisely use the physical environment within society’s beliefs, values, and ideas.
Climate change will affect all four dimensions of food security: food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability. It will have an impact on human health, livelihood assets, food production and distribution channels, as well as changing purchasing power and market flows. Its impacts will be both short term, resulting from more frequent and more intense extreme weather events, and long term, caused by changing temperatures and precipitation patterns.
Agriculture remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy. It is the single most important sector in the economy, contributing approximately 25% of the GDP, and employing 75% of the national labour force (Republic of Kenya, 2005). Over 80% of the Kenyan population live in the rural areas and derive their livelihoods, directly or indirectly from agriculture.
Policies for agriculture consist of government decisions that influence the level and stability of input and output prices, public investments affecting agricultural production, costs and revenues and allocation of resources. These policies affect agriculture either directly or indirectly.
Especially by 2000 when growth declined to -2.4% contributing to lower employment, incomes, food insecurity etc
Limited high potential agricultural land and over-reliance on rain fed agriculture.
Potential irrigable land is 540,000 ha while only 90,000 ha developed (7% of cropped land) (SRA, 2004); low level of water utilization, lack of efficient technologies, destruction of catchment areas, poor mgt of public irrigation sector, lopsided Nile Treaty
Limited diversification of Agricultural production
Only a few commodities (coffee, tea, dairy, maize, wheat, beef, and horticulture provide livelihood for over 85% of the population while coffee and tea alone provide 45% of the wage employment in the sector. Closely linked to this is the narrow base for agricultural exports (UNDP 2002).
poor rural roads, markets and transport systems that result in high transactions costs for farmers and inaccessibility to input and output markets are among the main concerns for the sector.
agro-based industries to increase the value of agricultural produce, education, training and extension services to enhance the adoption of modern farming techniques, establishment of local market centres to open up markets for farmers produce, rural electrification to facilitate agro-processing and safe storage for the produce
The research system in place for agriculture also faces a number of problems like lack of strong research-extension-farmer linkages, inadequate funding, and high turnover of research scientists due to poor incentives.
Lack of well defined priorities that reflect policy pronouncements, lack of monitoring and evaluation, the low use of trained scientists from institutions of higher learning and low funds for research have all contributed to the concern.
Agricultural sector financing and related activities.
Inaccesibility to affordable credit to acquire new technology for production
Weak cooperative and grassroots organizations
Limited development and exploitation of the livestock sector
Recurrent droughts that lead to massive losses in livestock and therefore livelihoods for the pastoralists are a major concern.
Poor marketing and poor road infrastructure within the ASAL areas
Lack of a comprehensive land use policy
Until recently an area of major concern in relation to land use management, tenure reforms and environmental protection
Improved agricultural methods:Changing farming practices is essential to conserve soil moisture and nutrients, reducing runoff and controlling soil erosion. Changes in temperatures associated with climate change also result in change in pests and diseases for crops and animals.
Rain water harvesting:This involves capturing rainwater from the rooftops or stormwater through construction of dams and reservoirs. This approach is easy to implement and less capital intensive. The policy on this issue needs to be clear from the local level.
Early warning systems: Use of earth observation systems can provide more accurate weather forecasts and thus early warning to communities. This information can be communicated to communities through media alerts, hotlines, extension staff. Special emphasis should be placed on targeting high risk institutions and communities to minimise the risks and losses- the case of aflatoxin attack in Eastern Kenya.
Environmental education and awareness:The pace and effectiveness of adaptation to climate change depend largely on the levels of awareness especially by members of the public. The communities need to be aware of the technologies available and how to use them. This requires the use of diverse learning enhancement technologies.
Use of indigenous technology options that are time tested and proven (the case of orphaned crops, community biodiversity conservation groups).
Local natural resource governance structures need to be enhanced to enhance conservation.
Appropriate and well coordinated climate change adaptation policies and associated instruments at community, regional and national levels through enhancement of role of National Adaptation Planning Committees
Capacity building needs (all levels) and information sharing: use of climate information to inform food security/insecurity issues; simplification of climate information for use in agricultural extension
Emergency preparedness and response
Increased research into climate and food security related issues
Mainstreaming of climate change into all aspects that touch on community livelihoods as it is a cross cutting issue i.e. energy use, conservation, food production, water conservation etc.
Improved monitoring and evaluation of both climate and food security variables (weather data, pests and diseases, yield data etc)