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Food Science and Technology in Kenya

Overview of Food Science and Technology in Kenya

Kenya’s economic background is agriculture. This contributes 26% directly and 25% indirectly to the national GDP. It is a food deficit country which meets the needs of its growing population through formal and informal imports of maize (staple), rice and wheat, making the country vulnerable to international price fluctuations as well as to trade barriers imposed by neighbouring countries from which it imports. Lack of adequate storage facilities leads to 20-30% loss of food especially maize, as a result of insect pests, rodents and pathogens which affect not only the availability of food but also household income and their ability to buy food. Lack of drying facilities means the highly toxic aflatoxin fungus continues to grow in contaminated maize postharvest. Livestock production also plays a key role in the food security in the country.

Major Issues

Food Security

While most households (88%) in Kenya have acceptable food consumption, around 12% of the households (four million people) have unacceptable consumption, translating to a diet that consists chiefly of a staple, in this case maize, flavoured with green vegetables and oil. Households are highly dependent on buying foods hence market integration and food prices are key determinants of household food security across the country. In the face of food shortages, households have no choice but to cut the quality and the quantity of what they eat. In most cases, food insecure households are likely to be poor, rural and headed by someone with little or no education.

Food security problems are not just for rural consumers. Statistics show that the highest number of food insecure households is in the capital Nairobi, where 96,356 households have poor or borderline consumption, whereby of these, 18,967 have poor consumption. Achieving food security is a key policy challenge to the government of Kenya. Measures to address food security should be multidimensional and involve all stakeholders both within the country and outside the country.

Therefore, to improve the food situation sustainably and ensure that the country’s food security is increasingly achieved through food self-sufficiency, the government has undertaken the following interventions, among others.

Crop and livestock insurance

The government has enhanced reduction of weather induced production risks through agricultural and livestock insurance to minimise risks and cushion pastoralists and farmers from the risk. The livestock insurance risk triggers payments to farmers when drought in the country reaches a critical stage.

Fertiliser subsidy program

This ensures that subsidy fertiliser is available to registered farmers in time for the planting season hence contributing to the high yields of the produce.

Resilience programs

The government continues to support interventions that are of recovery and resilience in nature, geared towards the promotion of livestock production and sustainability for improved livelihoods.

Success Story from Farm to Fork

In Kenya, farmers too often lack access to agricultural inputs such as fertilisers that can enhance their yields. In addition, widespread illiteracy limits their ability to access the right information at the right time. This includes modern best practices and innovations in agricultural science. Data however shows that, with the right knowledge and resources, smallholder farmers can move out of poverty and become dynamic players in agriculture. They have the potential to not only feed the world, but become the game changers of 21st century agriculture.

A story is given of Silas Musyoki, who has been a vegetable farmer for many years but was not getting the best returns from his farm because he had limited knowledge of best practices for the vegetables he was growing. After joining Oyeska Greens (a start-up dedicated to empowering small holder farmers with the knowledge they need to farm successfully), he attended focused training sessions and learned about the specifics of growing tomatoes. He also learnt how to treat farming like a business and the importance of creating a long term plan. He received additional support through various extension services throughout the farming season, and by the end of the season, he had a bumper crop, having produced over 2,000 kg of tomatoes. He was able to build a beautiful home for his family and was featured in the national Standard newspaper. When asked by the company to share words of wisdom with other smallholder farmers, Silas said: “Farming is cool, hard work pays. With the right knowledge, you can succeed”

Story courtesy of Oyeska Greens Company and Esther Ngumbi 

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IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB)



John Spink, PhD
Food Fraud – and the focus on prevention – is an important and evolving food industry focus. Even though the vast majority of these incidents do not have a health hazard in some ways they are more dangerous because the substances and actions are unknown and untraceable.  The types of food fraud stretch the traditional role of food science and technology to include criminology, supply chain traceability and other control systems. The food authenticity and integrity testing will be the most complex actions and their value should be assessed in terms of the contribution to prevention. This Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB) presents an introduction, review of incidents, the fundamentals of prevention which then provide insight on the optimal role of Food Science and Technology.
See IUFoST SIBS below for the complete Food Fraud Prevention Scientific Information Bulletin.






Congratulations Prof. Dr. Purwiyatno Hariyadi

Congratulations to Prof. Dr. Puwiyatno Hariyadi who has been elected to the position of Vice-Chair of the  CODEX Alimentarius Commission.

Dr. Hariyadi is a Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology (IAFoST) and Senior scientist, SEAFAST Center; Professor, Dept. Food Science and Technology, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia.

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