Attaining food security for Kenya is high in the government priority list. Kenya must afford to feed its populace and create a surplus that will form a basis of aggressive regional trade. By attaining food security in a competitive manner, the government will address unemployment and at the same ensure that the population is not only healthy but wealthy.
Despite the central role that agriculture plays in Kenya, the sector continues to face four major challenges that must be addressed so that Kenya is able to produce sufficient foods with a surplus for the external market:
Productivity remains a major challenge for many crops remain below potential. Productivity is constrained by high costs of inputs: fertilizer and seeds, poor livestock husbandry, limited extension services, over dependence on rain-fed agriculture, lack of markets and limited application of agricultural technology and innovation.
Land remains under exploited for agricultural production. Only 31% of land is under utilization in high and medium potential areas. This represents merely 5% of total land in Kenya.
Marketing represents another challenge. Productivity is restrained by inefficiencies in the supply chain. Supply side inefficiencies result from limited storage capacity, lack of post harvest services and poor access to input markets.
The limited ability to add value to agricultural produce, coupled with high production costs makes Kenyan agricultural exports less competitive in the global markets.
The four challenges will form the basis of the Kenya Food Security Conference 2013. The public and private sectors in Kenya will discuss how to review institutional frameworks to make Kenya food secure.
The key objective of the conference is to put the agricultural sector on a path to innovative, commercialy oriented and modern farm and livestock sector.