In Kenya, hunger is synonymous to lack of maize and with this understanding; Kenya is staring at a looming famine in the face. This is after the ministry of Agriculture announced that the maize stocks in the country’s reserves are not sufficient to take us through to the next harvesting season in September.

The Kenyan populace has overly relied on maize and ignored other foods. This has resulted in pressure on the maize. To alleviate this problem, there is need to encourage people to diversify and consider other foods other than concentrating on ugali alone. It is even rumored that in one community in Kenya, people will complain of sleeping hungry if there is no ugali on the menu. The solution being resorted to in order to solve this problem is importation of maize from the neighboring countries. Even though this may be the solution in the short term, a sustainable solution would be looking at alternative foods.         

Mixed cropping to ensure food security

There is need to cultivate and consume other crops and emphasis should be given to drought tolerant crops like cassava.  The government has come up with initiatives to ensure food security;

The government recently rolled out an initiative to promote cassava production in order to enhance food security. This is aimed at cushioning the country against food insecurity following the outbreak of Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) which damaged more than 260,000 hectares of crops valued at Sh2 billion in the last season. The National Council for Science and Technology in partnership with Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) are involved in this programme and they are training farmers on various aspects of cassava production. Universities and other organizations in the country are also involved. The farmers are trained on rapid cassava production and marketing as an alternative source of food and revenue. Also, they are trained on cassava variety, field establishment and value addition and marketing strategies.

Farmers are encouraged to be proactive and seek support from agricultural institutions to enhance sustainable cassava production in the country and increase their income generation. These farmers have been advised to also use other drought tolerant crop varieties to improve their food security situations.

Diversification holds the key to food security in terms of drought and increased incomes for the farmers.