Evidence for policy, advocacy and partnerships: Empowering civil society in Kenya’s agriculture sector


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Through the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP), strategic collaborations for systems and policy change, grounded in evidence, have enabled civil society organisations in Kenya to address the following specific issues regarding food safety and postharvest loss. Below is a collation of the evidence and the questions it helps answer.

The dairy and horticulture sectors have huge potential to contribute to Kenya’s economic development. The dairy sector accounts for 14% of agricultural GDP while horticulture generates 36% of the agriculture GDP. However, avoidable losses and food safety challenges prevent the country from realising the full potential of these sectors.

Postharvest losses tend to be highest in fresh horticultural crops - previous literature from sub-Saharan Africa documents a wide range of losses ranging from a low of 7% in sweet potato to a high of 55% in mango. Existing studies as well as new evidence generated through the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) indicate that the majority of these losses occur on-farm. Meanwhile, farm level milk losses in Kenya are estimated to be more than 6% of total production, implying that at current production levels, national annual losses may reach 60 million litres.

At present, dairy and horticultural producers often have limited knowledge, capacity and/or tools to effectively combat food loss, deficits that call for urgent action.

There is significant potential for farmers and actors throughout the value chain to benefit economically from the production of safe, high-quality produce. Premium markets for safer horticulture and dairy produce are growing, as the burgeoning Kenyan middle class demands a more diversified, nutritious, and safe diet. The urgency to address the foodborne health burden - the cost of which greatly exceeds public investment in food safety -presents both challenge and opportunity.

An important barrier to reducing the foodborne disease burden and taking advantage of the presenting market opportunities is the continued fragmentation of Kenya’s food safety system.

Through V4CP, strategic collaborations for systems and policy change, grounded in evidence, have enabled civil society organisations in Kenya to address the following specific issues regarding food safety and postharvest loss: limited awareness about the impact of contaminated food on the national economy; lack of systems for food traceability; lack of effective consumer voice and institutions; limited capacity of regulatory bodies; restrictive regulatory environment; insufficient access to information; limited interest of consumers; limited political will.

The evidence available provides recommendations to key policy questions including:

Why invest in food safety?

Report, Foodborne disease in Kenya: County-level cost estimates and the case for greater public investment

Policy brief, March 2020, Foodborne disease in Kenya: the case for greater public investment

Report, November 2018, Prioritisation of food safety issues in the dairy and horticulture value chains, Kenya

Brief, 2020, Food safety in Kenya: focus on fruits and vegetables

Brief, 2020, Food safety in Kenya: focus on dairy

Report, Milk safety at the vendor and household level: Evidence from peri-urban Kisumu

Report, November 2019, Consumers Perception of Milk Safety in Kenya

Policy brief, February 2020, Milk safety at the vendor and household level: Evidence from peri-urban Kisumu

Which mix of actions can promote food safety?

Policy brief, April 2020, Food safety in tomatoes produced in Laikipia County

Scoping Study, November 2018, National food safety architecture of the horticulture value chain, Kenya

Scoping Study, November 2018, National food safety architecture of the dairy value chain, Kenya

Programme brief, January 2019, Regulatory compliance in the Kenyan dairy sector

Report, November 2018, Development of a food safety policy framework for Kenya: Lessons and best practices from the Vietnam experience

Policy note, November 2018, Transforming the national food safety control system for Kenya: Lessons and best practices from the Vietnam experience

Which gaps require attention in controlling postharvest losses?

Policy brief, March 2020, Post-harvest losses in potato: Evidence from Nyandarua County

Research brief, Post-harvest losses in potato in Nyandarua County

Brief, November 2018, Low-cost innovations and technologies for controlling milk loss

Tools you can use to promote action on food safety and postharvest loss:

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Additional advocacy products:

Policy documents and processes that have been developed or initiated through Voice for Change Partnership:

See the full library of materials.