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December 10, 2014

Food Security is Discussed at This Year's JEPAK Annual Conference

The theme of this year's JEPAK Annual National Conference – "Enhancing Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security in Kenya" - was very timely as the conference comes in the wake of a number of drought disaster situations in the country, despite agriculture being the mainstay of Kenya's economy. The JICA Ex-participants Alumni of Kenya (JEPAK) is an association of diverse professionals who are beneficiaries of training in Japan through JICA. With support from JICA, they engage in a number of community activities throughout the year, as a way of harnessing the rich and varied academic and professional skills and experiences of among them. Welcoming participants to the Conference, Mr. Paul Wachira, the JEPAK Chairman, explained that they hold annual national conferences on topical issues.

PhotoJEPAK Chairman Mr. Paul Wachira

PhotoJEPAK Patron Prof. Ratemo Michieka

The JEPAK Patron, Prof. Ratemo Michieka noted that food security is a key issue not only in Kenya but in the larger East African region. He cited the 1992 definition of food security at the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), held in Rome as "access by all people at all times to the food needed for a healthy life." Essentially, in order to achieve food security a country must achieve three basic aims. It must: ensure adequacy of food supplies in terms of quantity, quality and variety of food; optimize stability in the flow of supplies; and secure sustainable access to available supplies by all who need them.

He observed that the major problem of food security in the region is mainly due to poor distribution, since some areas lack adequate food while there is wastage in other regions.

PhotoJICA’s Chief Representative Mr. Hideo Eguchi

PhotoJEPAK Officials, the Chief Guest and JICA’s Chief Representative

JICA's Chief Representative, Mr. Hideo Eguchi, commended JEPAK members for their vibrant work throughout the years and for organizing the national conference. On the day's theme, he observed: "On its part, JICA has provided technical assistance towards the same objective from formulation to implementation. A case in point is the formulation of the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) and subsequent interventions like rehabilitation and expansion of rice schemes, research and trials for new rice varieties, training of counterpart staff and capacity building for rice farmers."

PhotoMs. Philomena Koech speaks on behalf of Cabinet Secretary Hon. Felix Koskei

PhotoThe turnout demonstrated great interest in the subject of food security

Speaking on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Hon. Felix Koskei, Ms. Philomena Koech, Director of Administration at the Ministry noted that ensuring food security is a right stipulated in the constitution. The Government, she informed participants, was undertaking many initiatives towards this end, that would transform agriculture into a vibrant sector. She lauded the contribution of JICA, particularly in support for rice, and hoped that this would contribute to reducing the current over-reliance on rice imports. She also applauded JEPAK for its activities, which include holding free medical camps and symposiums on key issues.

PhotoMr. Samuel Kiiru from JEPAK

PhotoDr. Mary Mathenge makes her presentation

PhotoDr. Jane Mwathi from KARLO makes her presentation

PhotoParticipants keenly following the presentations

PhotoDr. Catherine Kunyanga from the University of Nairobi

PhotoJEPAK Patron Prof. Michieka (2nd right) with seminar participants

<p>Various Experts drawn from academia, private sector, government institutions and JEPAK members made presentations on the theme, including policy interventions, biotechnology, mitigation measures in Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs), challenges to achieving good nutrition, NERICA (New Rice for Africa) and the role of insurance in addressing food security. Discussions were engaging and vibrant, and participants came up with recommendations to help alleviate the perennial problem of food insecurity. </p> <p>It is hoped that these recommendations, to be presented to relevant authorities, will be adopted and implemented, and that the problem of food insecurity in Kenya and the region will be a thing of the past.</p>

PhotoJICA’s Chief Representative Mr. Hideo Eguchi with JEPAK Officials and participants


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