Legislators gather to deliberate on Kenya’s food system

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has hosted a two-day National Parliamentary retreat to explore external development partners’ roles and assess the implementation of the Maputo and Malabo declarations in the country.

The retreat is under the Africa Food System Parliamentary Network (AFSPaN), aimed at mobilizing parliamentary support and advancing inclusive agri-food system transformation, across the African Continent.

Founded in 2006, AGRA is an Africa-led organization focused on putting farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy.

Together with its partners – including researchers, donors, African Governments, the private sector, and the civil society, AGRA seeks to create an environment where Africa sustainably feeds itself.

Speaking during the Retreat, Chairperson of the Agricultural and Livestock Committee Dr. John Mutunga, said the meeting aims to engage with development partners in the agricultural sector.

He said that the purpose of the retreat was to bring in the legislators, to understand what development partners who are outside the government are doing in the sector, to revisit Maputo and Malabo declarations, which have been signed by the government, and the extent to which the declarations have been implemented.

In attendance were 32 Members of Parliament and the Senate, from the Finance, Budget, National Planning, Agriculture, and Food Security Committees.

“This meeting is key for us to bring these committees on board, so that they may be able to understand how other countries, which have seriously invested in agriculture are growing faster,” Mutunga said.

Some of the key highlights during the meeting were, the urgency in Organizing Agri-systems for economic stimulus, addressing budget gaps from under 4 percent to 10 percent allocation according to the Maputo declaration, policy interventions for a green revolution, and commitment to Malabo goals.

The Maputo declaration focuses on the commitment of at least 10 percent of the national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implantation.

The Malabo Declaration on the other hand includes, reducing levels of poverty, ending hunger on the continent, and tripling intra-African trade in agricultural goods by 2025 among others.

It also emphasizes reconfirmation that agriculture should remain high on the development agenda of the continent and its critical policy initiative for African economic growth and poverty reduction.

“There is an urgent need for increased policy interventions in the agricultural sector given it plays a critical role as the economic backbone of most African countries. This is a crucial meeting for all the key stakeholders, because it sets the pace for coming-up with policies that will drive the green revolution in Africa,” Mutunga said.

John Macharia, the Country Director, AGRA, Kenya, who represented Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President, said that it is crucial to do business unusual, enhance private sector interventions as well as improve the policy frameworks guiding agri-foods transformation.

The AFSPaN initiative, officially launched at the 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Partnership Platform in Lusaka, Zambia, brings together parliamentarians from national, regional, and continental parliamentary bodies, emphasizing key committees such as Agriculture, Environment, Food Security, Finance, Budget and Planning.

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