2022 SHIFtS "a Food Systems" Summit
THEME: The Role of Agri-Insurance in Addressing Food System Gaps in Counties
- Climate SMART Agriculture
- Food value chain
- Business, market, and trade orientations including carbon trading
- Supportive systems and institutions
In East Africa, particularly Kenya's agricultural landscape, smallholder farmers make up 70% of the farming population and account for 75% of national food production. The agricultural outputs contribute 31.5% of the GDP and employ 38% of the population. Notably, the country's agriculture is also a significant driving force for the non-agricultural economy, providing markets or expanding scopes for other industries like logistics, civil construction, non-profit organizations, technical education, and digital services. Despite the overreliance on agriculture, over 35% of the population is food insecure and suffers from malnutrition yearly. The state of food insecurity in Kenya is serious; ranking 86 out of 117 countries on the 2019 Global Hunger Index. Currently, at least 3.1 million Kenyans in 23 Counties face food shortages. For instance, the overall proportion of households who do not have enough food to meet their household needs throughout the year in Homabay, Kisumu, and Migori Counties is 82%.
The complexity of food systems, the sheer number of livelihoods that depend on them, their implication for diet and health, the diversity of ecosystem interactions, and the implication of such interaction for the environment and global health are just a few reasons that make food systems transformation a formidable endeavor. Previous models of food systems transformation have focused on diversified systems. These models have been applied in Africa and Kenya and have attracted huge interest and investment from global players. However, even with the huge investment, the impact of agroecological and climate SMART interventions on the food system, human productivity and well-being remain minimal. The minimal impact is attributed to the limited engagement of target beneficiaries in program design and monitoring, which leads to low buy-in and commitment to interventions. Target beneficiaries also tend to have minimal business orientation, while practitioners have inadequate skills in agroecological approaches to business. The potential impact is also compromised by uncoordinated efforts among agencies implementing agroecological approaches, poor data management (UN, 2021) and inadequate platforms for documenting lessons and shared learning.
Furthermore, despite the predominance of Kenyan agriculture, smallholder farmers face inadequate access to farming inputs, knowledge of sustainable farming technologies and finances to enhance production. In Kenya, smallholder production systems are characterized by inadequate access to output markets and limited business orientation that hinder commercial transformation. In recent years, climatic-related extremes like droughts, floods, and repeated pest infestations have also given rise to the sub-optimal conditions for farming. This has made the farmer families more vulnerable and increasingly exacerbated the food insecurity situation in the country. Moreover, the over-reliance of the Kenyan population on the agriculture sector beyond direct production implies that the population and their food system are intricately over-dependent on the agroecosystem. However, the agriculture sector continues to attract depressed investment, including agricultural insurance, even in the face of one of the worst locust invasions in decades and recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to undermine the potential for agricultural growth.
Because of uncertain weather patterns, farmers have adopted a wait-and-see scenario on their farms; food production is reduced, causing high food prices due to low supply from farmers. More and more idle farms are spotted across the country as farmers abandon agriculture because it is risky daily. Smallholder farmers are not able to take up the available insurance products to mitigate their farming risks posed by changing weather patterns because of many hurdles such as:
- Limited knowledge of the existing agricultural insurance products and benefits.
- High threshold for insurance qualification: Crop Insurance and Livestock insurance requirement puts a minimum acreage limit at 20 acres per farmer. This is ten times higher than the average smallholder farmer's acreage, so they are bundled out of insurance coverage. In small-scale agriculture, farm sizes tend not to exceed 5.0 ha. Loss assessment on individual farms would be a resource-intensive and time-consuming exercise for insurance underwriters.
- One-time lump sum payment for insurance premiums: The insurance companies offering such covers require a lump sum payment for insurance which is not attainable since farmers' incomes are affected by many factors, including earnings and fluctuating prices.
- Variety of actors, disconnected mandates and responsibilities and poor coordination and collaboration among multi-stakeholders in the industry.
Against this backdrop; the Safe, Secure, Sustainable, Healthy, and Inclusive Food Systems (SHIFtS) Consortium, composed of Columbia Global Centers in Eastern & Southern Africa (CGCESA), collaborating with Fairways Green Markets and Chancery Wright Insurance Brokers, seeks to address the various challenges facing the food ecosystem in various Counties in Kenya. The main goal of the SHIFtS Consortium will be to improve the input supply and production of crops, livestock, fish, and other agricultural commodities and to enhance the transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, and preparation of foods for consumption and disposal. The project will also help create an enabling policy environment and cultural norms around food. In the long run, we expect that the food systems at the County level would be nutrition-, health-, and safety-driven, productive and efficient (and thus able to deliver affordable food), environmentally sustainable and climate-smart, and inclusive.
The Center, together with its team of partners, will work with the County Government of Migori, Agriculture and Fisheries Department, which implements more than 15 projects, including the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP), with more than 18,500 farmers, Instruments for Devolution Advice and Support (EU IDEAS) supporting 3000 farmers, Farm to Market Alliance (FTMA) reaching more than 10,000 farmers, Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP) with 4000 farmers, Aquaculture Business Development Program (ABDB) with 4000 farmers, Small Horticulture Empowerment Project (SHEP), FAO Post COVID Intervention Program, Agricultural Finance Investment - Microfinance Enterprise Support Trust (AGRIFI-MESPT), Self-Help Africa (SHA), among others.
Through our engagement with the County Government, we realized a great need for agri-insurance products and services. We ascertained that the provision of these services could be applied sustainably and innovatively to address some of the pre-existing gaps in the ongoing projects and the food system as a whole. For instance, we asked ourselves, can agri-insurance be an incentive for farmers to adopt climate SMART approaches increasingly? While agri-insurance is our main entry mode (given the great need), SHIFtS will focus on addressing the food system gaps. Consequently, the project will utilize a participatory, integrated, multi-actor, social enterprise approach to attain seven (7) specific objectives:
- Increase agricultural productivity by reducing risks and ensuring increased investment returns for farmers. Among others, this will include increasing input supply and agricultural commodity production.
- Improve the food systems value chain including transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, and preparation of foods for consumption and disposal
- Improve access to agri-insurance and other risk management products and services
- Enhance adoption of climate-SMART agricultural approaches and improve nutritional outcomes for targeted beneficiaries
- Improve entrepreneurial, business, market, and trade orientations including carbon trading
- Ensure sustainable partnerships and coordinated multi-stakeholder collaborations
- Create and promote enabling policy structures and environments and building adaptive institutional capacities
We held a stakeholder forum with 50 Farmer Service Centers ( representing 5,000 farmers) and 14 sub-county officials on the 3rd of June 2022 to gain buy-in and commitment. We hope that funding and resources mobilized for this Summit will support:
- A 3 day of pre-summit farmer planning meeting targeting 10,000 plus in Migori between 18th and 20th July 2022
- The 24th and 25th of November 2022 SHIFtS Summit
- A series of post-summit farmer planning meetings and training
- A couple of multi-stakeholder, accountability, and performance review workshops.
Essentially, the Summit will launch the flagship program: "Towards a Safe, Secure, Sustainable, Healthy, and Inclusive Food Systems for Counties (SHIFtS)."