Food security and the impact of agricultural development in western Kenya: problems and opportunities.
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The first food policy paper for Kenya was formulated in 1981 and revised in 1994, in response to the need to accommodate new policies promoting the liberalization and privatization of agricultural services and inputs. The overall objectives of both policies was to ensure and maintain a position of broad food sufficiency without using scarce foreign exchange; to achieve food security across different and diverse parts of the country; and to facilitate the equitable distribution of food produced in the country. Across the country, the strategies implemented under the food policies have had mixed results. As the paper shows, the strategies have largely failed to deliver on key areas to date, in spite of clearly defined projects aimed at improving agricultural productivity. The paper reports on a study undertaken in western Kenya, which found that while some districts achieved self-sufficiency in maize production, others faced food shortages. The study concludes that for policies to succeed in improving food security, greater political support is needed and farmers must be actively recognised as the main stakeholders. Issues discussed are: background information on western Kenya; agricultural research and extension; agricultural marketing; agricultural credit; and participatory community development.