KENYA – In a bid to enhance local food production and alleviate the challenges faced by Kenyan farmers, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has unveiled a five-year, US$50 million project named Local Food Systems (LFS).

The initiative, set to kick off in the first quarter of 2024, aims to support agricultural schemes across 17 counties, engaging farmers, growers’ organizations, markets, transporters, counties, and the national government.

Outgoing Chief of Party (CoP) Robert Mwadime, who supervised the successful implementation of the Kenya Crops and Dairy Marketing Systems (KCDMS), emphasized that the LFS project is strategically aligned with the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) of the Kenya Kwanza Government.

Dr. Mwadime outlined the comprehensive approach of the project, involving all stakeholders in the agricultural value chain from farm to market.

“The LFS project is currently in the proposal submission and reviewing stage, with successful bidders expected to be announced soon.”

In addition, he highlighted that these bidders will work with farmer organizations under a food business aggregation model to minimize losses and support growers to achieve economies of scale.

“A key component of the project involves collaborating with markets to address barriers hindering the supply of commodities. Transporters will also be recognized and supported to ensure the efficient and timely transportation of food from farms to markets in optimal condition,” Dr. Mwandime added.

Dr. Mwadime stressed the importance of constructing well-built, clean structures with modern storage facilities to guarantee the longevity of food commodities.

The project aligns with the Kenyan government’s efforts to provide subsidized fertilizers and other inputs to promote production.

Farmers will be assisted under an aggregation model to protect them from exploitation by middlemen and rogue traders.”

During the close-out ceremony of the KCDMS program, Dina Esposito, Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security (REFs) based in Washington DC, reiterated USAID’s commitment to continued investment in Kenya.

She announced over US$125 million in new activities for agriculture resilience and irrigation sectors over the next 12 months, focusing on reducing poverty, improving household food security, and increasing access to essential services for over 1.5 million Kenyans.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Dr. Paul Rono commended the KCDMS project for its pivotal role in transforming the lives of farmers and shaping the future of the agriculture sector.