KENYA – In celebration of the 2023 World Food Safety Day, over 2,000 farmers from Meru participated in a comprehensive training program at Kaguru ATC in Meru County to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary for responsible pest control product usage, ensuring both local and global food safety standards.
The Director of Crop Resource Management at the State Department of Agriculture, Mr. Douglas Kangi, emphasized the critical role played by soil in the genesis of food safety.
Kangi highlighted the need for farmers to receive proper training to minimize food losses and ensure market access.
He pointed out that inadequate chemical applications accounted for a staggering 20 to 25% of food wastage in the country, leading to significant financial losses for many farmers.
Additionally, farmers expressed their concerns about the scarcity of extension officers in the county, resulting in insufficient guidance and knowledge regarding pest control practices.
Kangi underlined that farmers worldwide desire to produce food safely and responsibly, acknowledging the intensive nature of agricultural work.
He reiterated the importance of helping farmers understand and implement farming practices that align with food safety principles.
Kangi emphasized that ensuring food safety is a collective responsibility that involves various stakeholders.
The CEO of the Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK), Eric Kimungunyi, emphasized the organization’s commitment to raising awareness about the significance of safe food production for Kenya’s growing population.
Kimungunyi emphasized the importance of safe food handling, storage, and farm preparations in preventing diseases. By encouraging farmers to read and understand standard labels, AAK aims to facilitate trade and ensure that products meet the required market standards.
Kenya heavily relies on small-scale farmers in rural areas, which contribute to 75% of the country’s food production. However, a pertinent question arises: How many of these farmers have received training in sustainable farming techniques?
While the government bears primary responsibility, universities, training centers, and NGOs must also play their part by offering continuous, high-quality training. Such efforts would ensure food safety, minimize pesticide residues in food, and protect the environment.
The training program aimed to enhance farmers’ understanding of responsible pest control practices, emphasizing the significance of reducing chemical waste and ensuring market viability.
Amidst growing concerns about food safety, the Kenyan government, in collaboration with various stakeholders, has launched a nationwide campaign to enhance food security and quality.
The initiative involves strengthening training programs, providing resources to farmers, and improving infrastructure for safe food handling and storage.
Additionally, efforts are being made to foster collaboration between government institutions, universities, NGOs, and private organizations to address the complex challenges associated with food safety.