CONTRIBUTION OF HORTICULTURE TO FOOD SECURITY IN KENYA
Agriculture is the foundation for economic growth, employment creation and foreign exchange earnings in sub-Saharan Africa. The sector contributes more than 50% of the Kenyas foreign exchange earnings and employs 80% of the population. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that Food Security is achieved when all people, at all times have physical and economic access to adequate/sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food security therefore, is not the physical availability of any single commodity; such as maize in the Kenyan context. Food security has three dimensions that include food accessibility, availability and consumption/nutrition. Neither does it imply just availability but must be accessible in terms of affordability in adequate quantities, and in terms of quality, containing essential nutrients in proper safety. At macro level, it implies that adequate supplies of food are available through domestic production or through imports to meet the consumption needs of all people in a country. At the micro level (household or individual), food security depends on a number of factors which are related to various forms of entitlements to income and food producing assets, as well as the links between domestic and external markets. Kenya for a long period pursued the goal of attaining self-sufficiency in food commodities that included maize, wheat, rice, beans, milk and meat. Self-sufficiency in maize was achieved during the 1970s when production was high and the surplus was exported. In Kenya, 30% of the food consumed by rural households is now purchased, while 70% is derived from own production. On the other hand, 98% of food consumed in urban areas is purchased while 2% is own production. Food security is not just a supply issue but also a function of income and purchasing power, hence its relationship to poverty. Among the existing agricultural enterprises, horticulture offers the best alternative for increased food self-sufficiency, improved nutrition and ensuring the generation of increased incomes and employment. This in essence enhances food nutrition security through improved food access in markets. Horticultural crops are high value crops generating higher profits than staple food crops per unit of land and the income thus generated can be used for different purposes in terms of eradicating hunger through meeting the food requirements and other necessities. The importance of horticulture in improving the productivity of land, generating employment, improving economic conditions of the farmers and entrepreneurs, enhancing exports and above all providing nutritional security to the people cannot therefore be overemphasized.
Irungu, J. (2011). CONTRIBUTION OF HORTICULTURE TO FOOD SECURITY IN KENYA. Acta Hortic. 911, 27-32