The role of international trade in achieving food security in sub Saharan Africa (a case study of Kenya)
A vibrant agricultural sector is very critical for alleviating SSA's current food security crisis, and for laying the foundations of sustained future economic growth. In recent years, nonetheless, agriculture has performed poorly in many African countries including Kenya. Efforts for its recovery, often through structural adjustment lending, have suffered from inadequate information about country and regional specific factors, and from an emphasis on macroeconomic policies without complementary interventions at the sector level as well as limited or no international trade interactions. This research project describes the patterns of agricultural growth in Kenya in relation to other SSA states like Rwanda, Angola and evaluates price and non-price aspects of three sets of factors: initial endowments and subsequent exogenous developments, general economic influences, and sectoral issues and policies. It suggests that government action at the sectoral and subsector levels in such critical areas as land policy, smallholders' access to inputs, and agricultural research needs to be combined with trade and macroeconomic reforms to achieve sustained and broad based agricultural growth. On the other hand, countries at early stages of development in Africa rely tremendously on agricultural growth for food, employment, foreign exchange reserves and lowering government budget deficit. The analysis indicates that agricultural prices and production have generally declined. The performance of the agricultural sector in the 1990s was depressing, with annual growth in agricultural GDP averaging 2% compared with 4% in the 1980s. Agricultural export growth after the reforms has shown varied trends due to market access restrictions for Kenyan exports. Market access for imports into the Kenyan market has been enhanced since the reforms, occasioning tremendous import growth. However, the capacity to import food has plummeted, occasioning the country into more food insecure issues. The balance of trade between Kenya and the rest of the world has deteriorated against Kenya. The study supports that after the reforms the country moved from broad self-sufficiency in production of most food staples to a net importer. However, execution of liberalized policies is supposed to be harmonized and coordinated to circumvent adverse effects on the sector to shield Kenya against food insecurity cases. Finally, progress toward a food secure nation can be achieved by implementing effective government policies that support small-scale farmers with key tools and seeds, while intensifying irrigation and supporting environmentally sustainable production methods to tackle the endemic problems of land e.g. fertility or soil erosion in the country.