IEA: Cost-benefit analysis key to attaining food security

IEA: Cost-benefit analysis key to attaining food security

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has lobbied for the adoption of a cost-benefit model in the implementation of public investments in agriculture.

This as a step to alleviate the country from constant food security concerns in spite of the heavy deployment of resources to food production.

According to IEA lead policy officer Steven Jairo, it is crucial to establish whether benefits out-way costs in an agricultural value chain to ensure value of money while stemming the emergence of cartels.

“As it is, both from the beneficiaries and those who out to be, the subsidy program has been to the benefit of large scale producers and hence the need for the scheme’s review,” Mr. Jairo underscored the risks to imprudent resource management.

He was speaking on Wednesday at the think tank’s public engagement forum on its upcoming white paper on issues to consider towards ensuring food security.

Jairo further made reference to the demise of the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme in spite of its huge backing by government to alleviate food security concerns.

Pre-advertised as the solution to perennial food insecurity, the Ksh.7.3 billion undertaking, covering close to 1 million acres in Lamu and Tana River counties only managed to output an average 20 bags per acre in its three harvests to date against the national 40-bags mean.

With maize production on the retreat in recent years, the IEA analysis backs the inclusion of additional cereals under the Strategic Grain Reserve.

From the analysis, cereals such as wheat, rice and beans have grown to become a substitute to the traditional staple especially in urban areas to make up an integral part of Kenya’s food basket today.

Even as queries on the feasibility of mega-projects in agriculture persist, policy also remains central to the realization of food security in the country.

According to economist John Mutua, there exists a need to either overhaul or tweak existing policy to respond to an ever dynamic economic segment.

“A dynamic policy should somewhat respond to the differential between what we have in urban areas in terms of consumption and preference vis-a-vis what we have in the rural areas,” he said.

Food security has once again been propelled to the limelight as a ravaging drought takes its toll on close to 13 counties to be termed largely as the effect to the delayed onset of the long-rains seasons in 2019.

This is in spite of the prioritization of food security by government under the ongoing economic transformation agenda.

The State is still a far cry from its aspirations of reducing the number of food insecure Kenyans by half and a 47 percent reduction in the cost of food by the year 2022.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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