Kenya needs a food policy to contain the perennial famine

Saturday March 23 2019

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The recent images of starving families in Turkana County have been very disturbing.

This just goes to show that Kenya must come up with an appropriate food policy.

Developed countries have food policies meant to ensure that their citizens never face good shortages.

They have invested in their market supply chains, ensuring that there is never any shortage or excessive supply that leads to shortage thereafter. They have ensured enough storage facilities for their produce.


As a country, we need to come up with a law that ensures all our products are sold on time, and to the correct market.

There are times Kenya thinks it has enough food, only to end up hearing that people are starving in some parts of the country, as is happening now.

Farmers in Uasin Gishu County have not sold their maize harvest for two years, yet people are starving to death a few hundred kilometres away in Turkana and Baringo counties.

A drought is a natural phenomenon that we cannot stop, but we can put measures in place to ensure that we do not have food shortages in the near future.

A government whose citizens die of hunger is a hopeless government.


Kenya has the National Cereals and Produce Board that is meant to ensure that grain storage and handling is done properly to ensure food security.

The board is supposed to ensure a consistent supply of cereals through a proper control of the market.

It is not that the government cannot provide food for those starving in Baringo, it is simply because the country lacks a proper food policy that can be enforced.

It’s high time the national and the county governments worked together. Other countries store food for years for use during hard times. We can do this, too.


The starvation crisis facing the country and the continued denial by government officials that no one has died of hunger, and that there is sufficient food contrary to what is being reported by the media, proves that a majority of our leaders lack empathy.

Unfortunately, from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices in Nairobi, far from the affected areas, the leaders are issuing press statements that contradict hard facts as presented by the media.

Empathetic leaders would have rushed to the affected areas, assessed the situation, consoled with the bereaved, the malnourished, and the sick, and immediately activated a swift response in terms of immediate delivery of food, water, and medicine.

Terming the horrendous still images and videos of the sickly and severely malnourished citizens as fake news is pathetic. Food is a basic need and the starving citizens must be accorded the dignity they deserve.