Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. It consists of 4 components namely food availability, access, utilization, and stability.
The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality is assured through domestic production or imports (including food aid). It is important that individuals have access to adequate resources so they can acquire appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Utilization of food occurs through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security. Stability ensures that to be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis).
The number of people affected by hunger globally has been slowly on the rise since 2014. Nearly 690 million people (or 8.9 percent) of the world population are hungry. (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2020). In Africa, there were 250 million undernourished people in 2019. Kenya is ranked number 86 out of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GoK, 2020).
The Big 4 Agenda is instrumental in addressing food security.
The ‘Big 4’ Agenda
The Third Medium Term Plan of Kenya Vision 2030 is driven by the Big Four Agenda. The agenda is a five-year program that seeks to achieve rapid results in four identified development sectors, that include food security. Its aim is to achieve 100% food and nutrition security. The State Department for Livestock (SDL) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives is contributing towards this noble goal. The department has several initiatives to contribute to increased meat production from a base of 700,000 metric tonnes to 990,000 metric tonnes by 2022.
Meat sourced from livestock is supplied by cattle, sheep, goats, camels, poultry, rabbits and pigs. To increase meat supply from cattle, sheep and goats, the department is promoting the feedlot system of production using a public-private partnership model and supported by promotion of bull schemes for breeding and improvement of beef cattle. There are also poultry commercialization initiatives that include support for provision of day old chicks and feeds to youth and women groups; and support for establishment of poultry agribusiness model farms.
Commercial rabbit production involves establishment or rehabilitation of rabbit multiplication centres, import of breeding stock and development of a suitability map for rabbit commercialization at the counties. To enhance pig enterprises, two breeding centers have been constructed. The centers will supply breeding stock of pigs for small and medium enterprises.
Meat Nutrition and Consumption
Meat contains protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Proteins, the building blocks of life, are needed by the human body to repair and build cells and are essential for normal growth and development, especially during childhood and pregnancy. Protein is made up of amino acids and is present in all animal sources, but meat contains more protein than other animal sources such as eggs and milk. Fat is needed by the body to carry out normal bodily functions, such as hormone production.
In addition to the macronutrients such as protein and fat, meat contains micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. According to the British Meat Nutrition Education Service, red meat, that is, beef, pork and lamb, contains vitamins A, B, D and K as well as copper, chromium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc. These vitamins and minerals have important roles in the body and have a wide variety of effects. Iron, for example, is needed to carry oxygen from your lungs to various body tissues. About 83% of children aged 6-59 months are zinc deficient and this can lead to growth impediments and an increased risk of infection.
Currently per capita consumption of meat in Kenya is low, averaging no more than 10 kg for any type of meat. The expected increase in consumption will improve nutrition, without any envisaged negative impact on human health due to over consumption. The growing, increasingly affluent and urbanized population will consume more high value food products, in particular animal source foods (ASF) such as meat, milk and eggs. Higher earning Kenyans spent more on dairy, meat and eggs which can be attributed to both high grade expensive products and high quantities. We can expect this preference to continue to be adopted as income increases across the population in the long term. In aggregate, consumption of beef and milk will increase by over 170% between 2010 and 2050 by 0.81 and 8.5 million tonnes respectively.
Kenya will face unprecedented growth in the demand for food in the next 30-40 years. According to FAO, in 2050 the population of the country will reach about 96 million, up from 46 million today; 41 million people will live in urban areas vis-a-vis 12 million today; and consumers will be better off, with GDP per-capita projected to be USD 6,500 in 2050, over five times its current level. This growth will lead to new and different interactions between people and natural resources locally, regionally and globally, resulting in both predictable and unpredictable changes in all sectors of society.
There is need to establish a nutrition sensitive food security system that ensures that safe meat is readily available and affordable to all persons at any time. Linked to nutrition interventions the system will improve the quantity and quality of diets in Kenya. It’s also necessary to enact and update strategies to increase meat production in the medium and long term.
Bishar Elmi Femi
Ag. Director of Livestock Production.