Kenyan Universities have been challenged to channel resources in agricultural research, innovation and technology as a way of achieving food security in the country.
Chief Administrative Secretary for University Education and Research Professor Colleta Suda said reliance on seasonal subsistence farming and the slow adoption of modern farming meant that chronic malnutrition and acute food shortages will remain a reality.
Professor Suda said despite agriculture’s key role in addressing food security problem, the sector faces a myriad challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, soil degradation and rural-urban migration.
To deal with the issue of food security, noted the CAS, Kenya needs to look beyond policy actions to innovation.
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At the same time, Professor Suda who was the chief guest during the launch of Egerton University 2018-2023 Strategic Plan said due to diminished funding from the state, public universities needed to come up with partnerships, linkages and collaborative arrangements with donor agencies, research organizations and foreign institutions of higher learning.
The Chief Administrative Secretary said due to the increased number of public universities the government is increasingly finding it difficult to get sufficient funds for their research and operation programs.
She also challenged universities to carry institutional reforms aimed at streamlining their operation and cutting on unnecessary financial expenditures
She said new innovations in technology will enable agricultural stakeholders to make more informed decisions, which in turn makes farming more modern and profitable.
Similarly, Professor Suda said the sector was likely to benefit from the concept of e-agriculture.
Reliable technology she observed was good for collecting and analyzing data that helps researchers, governments and farmers to make informed decisions about what and when to plant.
According to the 2018 Economic Survey, food worth Ksh 150 billion went to waste, an unacceptable scenario in a food insecure country where hundreds of families still go to bed hungry.
The survey prepared by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that 1.9 million tons of food was discarded.
For Kenya to realize its ambitions on food security the Chief Administrative Secretary said a deliberate investment in technology, which facilitates access to relevant data, markets and financial services, will be critical.