The UN World Food Program (WFP) said on Monday it is giving food assistance to nearly 3 million people in Kenya including some 560,000 refugees in the East African nation.
In a statement issued in Nairobi ahead of the World Food Day to mark on Tuesday, WFP Country Director Ronald Sibanda said the UN food agency said it was putting much emphasis on supporting the mobile vulnerable populations in Kenya and across the world.
"Here in Kenya, WFP is giving food assistance to nearly 3 million people, including about 560,000 refugees," Sibanda said in a statement.
"WFP is putting more emphasis on food-based and cash-based activities that promote sustainable food security by investing in and developing communities' ability to create assets that will help them cope better with climate change and invest in sustainable hunger solutions."
The theme of this year's World Food Day is "Agricultural cooperatives--key to feeding the world."
The statement comes as Kenya has announced plans to overhaul the agriculture sector to increase food security and promote agri- processing.
Agriculture Permanent Secretary Romano Kiome said the 10 line ministries in agriculture had come together to push for modernization of farming with a view to increasing sustainable production as envisioned in Vision 2030.
He said one of the main aims under the program is to benchmark Kenya's agriculture strategies with developed countries, the U.S. and Europe.
He said the new strategy emphasizes increasing food supply and agri-processing, adding that the government will use the forum to launch sector strategies and policies such as the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy, the National Agribusiness Strategy and the National Agricultural Sector Extension Policy.
WFP works with agricultural cooperatives and farmers' organizations in many countries around the world, providing training to help improve crop quality, strengthen business practices and increase access to markets. In particular, WFP's Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot project has worked with more than 800 farmers' organizations, comprised of more than 1 million smallholder farmers, in 20 countries to build capacity and maximize developmental impact of food procurement.
"Through P4P in Kenya over the last three years, WFP has empowered 10,000 smallholder farmers to improve the quality of their produce through best post-harvest handling practices and to negotiate for better market prices. WFP has bought close to 9,000 metric tons of food commodity valued at 3 million dollars from farmers' groups and small scale traders," Sibanda said.
Kenya says it's focusing on sustained growth in agriculture production in terms of environmental conservation and revenue generation.
Kiome said agricultural production needs to increase by 60 percent over the next 40 years to meet the rising demand for food. He said there is a deliberate more to bring more youths into farming for "agricultural modernization."
He said a comprehensive policy would be released to guide on land use and encourage the old generation to give up land for the young people.
To achieve the innovative, modern and globally competitive agriculture in Kenya, the sector has to be made more attractive to for young entrepreneurs, he said.
"Training has to be transformed to meet the emerging needs. Young people have better ideas in farming than the old men," Kiome said.
In 2011, WFP said it bought food locally in Kenya totalling some 23 million U.S. dollars of which 3 million dollars worth was purchased from smallholder farmers.
Sibanda said the WFP will honor the World Food Day by reaffirming its dedication to work with communities, civil society, governments and the private sector to end hunger in our lifetimes.
Over the last year, communities on almost every continent have felt the devastating impacts of high food prices, natural disasters, climate emergencies and conflict, which have exacerbated hunger and poverty. Fortunately, working with partners across the globe WFP's food assistance has brought hope and relief to millions.
In 2011, WFP reached almost 100 million people in 75 countries, including over 11 million children who received special nutritional support and 23 million children who received school meals or take-home rations.