U.S pledges over Ksh.1 trillion to boost UN food initiative

U.S. pledges over Ksh.1 trillion to boost UN food initiative

The United States of America has pledged over Ksh.1 trillion to eradicate hunger, poverty, ensure gender equality and limit the climate crisis, boosting the United Nation’s (U.N) initiative to improve the global food systems. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the fund during the first United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) held in New York on Thursday.

Around Ksh.551.96 billion will be spent to support Feed the Future program, a global hunger and food security initiative. The remaining fund will be invested within the U.S, said a statement issued by the White House on Thursday.

“We must use the power of ingenuity to improve on food systems, so they provide safe, nutritious, affordable, and accessible food for all, while conserving natural resources, and combating the climate crisis,” said Tom Vilsack, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture. 

The UNFSS, also termed ‘people’s summit,’ aims to build a global collaboration to tackle the triple challenge of ensuring zero hunger, a sustainable food supply, and limiting the rising global temperature.

This even as President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged global financial institutions to ramp up investments in agriculture as part of their support for African economies.

In a pre-recorded video statement delivered Thursday evening during the virtual inaugural of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 76), the President urged financial institutions to support the innovation and design appropriate mechanisms that will help eliminate risks and losses in Africa’s agricultural sector.

“To support transformation of our economies, I would like to challenge our global financial institutions to innovate and design appropriate de-risking and financing instruments for increased investment in agriculture especially on the African continent,” said President Kenyatta.

He cited Kenya as an examples where Jubilee Administration has developed a food system call to action which is data driven, inclusive and innovative.

According to Kenyatta, Kenya’s unique food system encompasses rich and diverse diets as well as a climate resilient livelihoods plan, a combination that has ensured significant progress towards 100 percent food and nutrition security in the country.

The President listed five strategies the country has deployed towards enhancing food production systems among them the provision of relevant information to farmers and traders through national e-voucher programme as well as extension and advisory services, market information systems and commodity exchange services.

Also Read:

  1. UN report warns of dramatic worsening of hunger in pandemic-hit 2020
  2. Over 5000 women, children face hunger in Baringo
  3. Uhuru challenges global financial institutions to increase investment in agriculture

Kenyan Government was determined to fully re-engaged the youth in food production through the revival of 4-K and Young Farmers clubs so as to ignite their passion for agriculture and teach them about healthy diets.

Why are food systems failing?

While agriculture contributes to nearly a quarter, livestock emits around 14 percent of the global emissions. But meat production releases twice the emission than that of plant-based food, said a study released last week.

Moreover, close to 90 percent of the Ksh.5.9 trillion subsidies spent on the agricultural and meat sector globally every year is spent in areas that contribute massively to climate change, affect food price, and exacerbate pollution, said the UN report released ahead of the summit.

Despite lucrative subsidies, more than 800 million people worldwide faced chronic hunger last year, and 2.37 billion people could not get enough food throughout the year. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation further, with the prevalence of undernourishment increasing to around 9.9 percent in 2020.

“We, as the global community, are not delivering on our promises to eradicate hunger,” said President Sauli Niinistö of Finland. “In Finland, free-of-charge school meals have been provided since the 1940s… to address post-war poverty and malnutrition,” he said while addressing the summit.

The summit held close on the heels of the Global Biodiversity Summit, COP15 in October and Global Climate Change Summit, COP26 in November, is also an effort to motivate countries to pledge towards creating sustainable food systems.

“Food being at the front and center of Climate, COP26, and Biodiversity, COP15, is the only way to address the triple challenge of climate change, nature loss and food insecurity,” said João Campari, Global Food Lead at WWF International.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) around 118 million more people were facing hunger in 2020, an 18 percent increase from 2019. Some 9.9 percent of all people are estimated to have been undernourished last year, up from 8.4 percent in 2019, the report said.

About 21 percent of the population was facing hunger in Africa in 2020 – more than double the proportion of any other region.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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