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Kenya to gain from Sh1.5b vegetable production plan

Friday, September 22nd, 2023 01:15 | By
Five counties to benefit from a five-year project on production and consumption of vegetable to improve the nutrition of households. PHOTO/Print
Five counties to benefit from a five-year project on production and consumption of vegetable to improve the nutrition of households. PHOTO/Print

Five counties are set to benefit from a $10million (Sh1.5 billion) project designed to increase healthy vegetable production and consumption and cut food import bill.

Expected to benefit 1.1 million citizens, the five-year project to be funded by the national and county governments, and development partners will be implemented on a pilot basis in Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Machakos and Mombasa.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said during the launch of Vegetable for All project (V4ALL) in Nairobi the project targets to improve dietary diversity for urban and peri-urban populations in the said counties. The project is being implemented by the Geneva-based non-profit foundation - Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

Ruth Okowa, Country Director, GAIN Kenya said the project will cover establishment of market structures fitted with cold systems to guarantee longevity of the fresh produce. The targeted markets where facilities with cold systems will be fitted in Nairobi, she disclosed, include Wakulima, Wangige, Kawangware and Kongowea.

“Construction of market facilities with cold systems will help in prolonging the endurance of fresh produce and thus tame post-harvest losses. The idea is aimed at improving farmers’ income as well,” added Okowa.

The government of former President Uhuru Kenyatta sponsored construction of over 50 open air markets in various urban centres in the country as part of supporting farmers and traders to reduce post-harvest losses.

Okowa said the project aims to improve vegetable consumption by focusing on the vegetable safety, freshness at the point of purchase, proximity of vegetable sellers, variety and taste. “The biggest challenge we are having is the uptake of vegetables and according to WHO (World Health Organisation), people should be able to consume at least 400 gms of vegetables and fruits per day,” she added. But in Kenya, Okowa added, only 5.2 per cent of adults aged between 18 and 69 years consume the recommended five servings (400grams) of fruits and vegetables per day.

“Although vegetables are an important component of healthy and sustainable diets, vegetable consumption in Kenya has remained stagnant. It is currently at 100-130 grams per person per day against WHO recommendation of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per person per day,” said Okoa.

Linturi, who was represented at the launch by Rashid Khator, Secretary in Administration, said that food consumption in Kenya has been greatly influenced by increased urbanisation and economic growth. Stakeholders during the launch heard that traditional local nutritious foods that were once commonly consumed are now being exported instead of being consumed locally.

Okowa said the five-year project aligns with National Policies and priorities and strategies such as vision 2030, Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) and also the Bottom- Up Economic Transformative Agenda (BETA)

She called on all to embrace the power of vegetables, saying the need the increase the consumption of vegetables is not merely a dietary choice but a path to better health, economic growth, environmental sustainability and a preservation of our cultural identity.

Lawrence Haddad, the Executive Director of GAIN said “We want a million Kenyans to consume better vegetables have better diets as they are key to prevent malnutrition, to have a good life, to give your kids the best nutrition they can possibly get, to help them do well in school and avoid things like obesity overweight and diabetes and anemia, they’re absolutely critical.

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