Ministry of Agriculture , Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperative on the the Corona virus Pandemic and food security

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The world is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting world economies in unprecedented ways. Although it is too early to determine the actual long-term impact on agriculture supply chains and the Kenyan economy, it is evident that the economic impact of the pandemic is taking a toll on the national economy and this impact is particularly being felt in the agricultural sector and particularly in the fresh produce industry. This impact has been occasioned by the lockdown in most countries and the collapse of prices at the auction.
As the country remains vigilant to safeguard the health of its citizens under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health, it is critical to ensure that food systems are uninterrupted and that they do not provide avenues for further spread of the disease. 
The Government is alive to the potential threat COVID-19 poses to agriculture workforces’ and farmers’ safety and health and we are also alive to the reality that the country needs to be food secure during this pandemic, and that the agriculture sector will play a pivotal role in steering the economy back on its growth trajectory. 
The ongoing restrictions on movement have caused a strain in some areas on farmers’ ability access to markets and to buy inputs and sell products. Fresh produce is accumulating at farms particularly those meant for the export market. Due to the lockdown in most countries in Europe, flower farms have lost over 70% of their income over the last month. Vegetables and fruits markets remain with minimal activities as exporters are shipping only 25-30% of their normal capacity and many contracted out-grower farmers have reported losses due to non-collection of their produce from their farms. 
The Government is therefore calling upon farmers to continue production for food security of the country and to other value chain actors to play their part.  In order to avoid food shortages, it is imperative that we keep the food supply chains going. The supply of staple commodities must function well, and farm, livestock and fish production inputs and produce need to be transported to where they are needed most.  We are working closely with stakeholders to urgently strike a balance between keeping production going and protecting all actors along the agricultural value chain. 
I would like to assure Kenyans that the government is putting in place the necessary mechanisms to avert potential food shortages. Collaboratively, the National and County Governments are working together to ensure that the agricultural sector continues its operations and that food is available, accessible, affordable and safe for all Kenyan households. Currently, food supply is sufficient and I urge Kenyans to resist panic buying which will create an unwarranted shock in the market pushing the cost of food up. We will be closely monitoring the cost of food across the country and taking stern measures against traders who create artificial price inflation on food and agriculture inputs.  
The Government has constituted a COVID-19 County Coordination and Food Security Committee comprised of the key sector Ministries and Council of Governors under my Chairmanship. 
Within two days we shall be releasing guidelines to counties, food processors, transporters, farmers, input suppliers, veterinary practitioners and other value chain actors including the ‘mama mbogas’ operating across the country on how to conduct their business while ensuring their own safety and that of their customers.
As we commence planting season, I appeal to our farmers to continue with their farming activities.  The Government will facilitate farmers in access affordable inputs and extension support. The Government has made available fertilizers at affordable prices through KNTC and NCPB stores across the country.
The Government will be working round the clock to minimize disruptions to the food chain and we have put in place a COVID-19 Food Security War Room to swiftly address any emerging issues. 
I call on Agro-dealers and transporters to be even more diligent in supporting farmers during this planting season and to take the COVID-19 safety precautions at their workplaces in compliance with the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. 
The Government is putting in place mechanisms to support all players in the agriculture sector to continue with their operations. However they have to observe  the Government’s curfew rules and the Ministry of Health guidelines. • Let farmers continue with their farming activities• Let agro-dealers continue serving farmers • Let agro-processors continue processing    • Let transporters of food and agricultural produce continue with their operations. • Veterinary service providers are also essential service providers
We want to emphasize that the Agriculture Value Chain must continue to operate and will be facilitated to function by the Government.
ASANTENI

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