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Kenya to host inaugural Africa Food Show in 2020



Kenya will in 2020 host the inaugural Africa Food Show that will bring together policymakers, industry executives, farmers and consumers to learn about emerging trends in trade on agricultural commodities, organisers said on Tuesday.

David Wang, the Chairman of MIE Groups, the event organiser, said this in Nairobi.

The premier event, which will take place in Nairobi from June 24 to 26 in 2020, will help showcase food products, processing and packaging technologies to investors as well as consumers.

“Africa Food Show will provide a platform for the next generation of entrepreneurs to gain a better understanding of the market for agricultural commodities in the continent,’’ Wang said.

Wang said that Kenya’s strategic position as a logistics hub informed the decision to host the inaugural continental food summit that is expected to unlock opportunities for local farmers, processors and distributors.

“Kenya has modern infrastructure, policy support, growing foreign direct investments that are an incentive for hosting African Food Show and highlight untapped opportunities to global agricultural commodity traders.’’

The inaugural Africa Food Show, which will be held concurrently with China Trade Week, is expected to position Kenya as an attractive investment destination for agro-processing.

Lucy Njenga, Director of Policy Research and Regulation in the Ministry of Agriculture, said the event would boost the government’s food and nutritional security agenda.

“We are open to hosting an event that will provide an opportunity for farmers and investors to exchange knowledge on technologies and innovations that are key to promote food security and incomes through value addition,’’ said Njenga.

She said that Kenya would leverage the Africa Food Show to attract additional investors in value chains such as storage, processing and distribution in order to lift the fortunes of smallholder farmers.

Fadi Kaddoura, Vice President in charge of Sales and Marketing at MIE Groups, said the event would feature exhibitions alongside the business-to-business meetings.

The meeting is expected to raise the visibility of the continent’s major agricultural commodities.

The commodities will including cereals, fresh produce, spices and nuts.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde


FAO intensifies desert locust control measures in Kenya’s county




The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said Saturday it has intensified the desert locust control measures in Turkana County in northwest Kenya.

FAO said it has issued six surveillance vehicles, three pickups mounted with sprayers, one helicopter, two spray airplanes as well as one fixed-wing aircraft for the Kenya-Uganda border surveillance.

FAO is taking a regional approach to desert locusts control response, and it is important for Turkana to intensify control measures to ensure that the desert locust do not mature and continue to compound the threat to Kenya’s and East Africa‘s food security,” said Tobias Takavarasha, FAO Representative to Kenya ad interim.

Takavarasha, who was peaking during the flagging off at Lodwar airstrip, said the donation is in response to the reported sightings of mature copulating swarms last month, which have resulted in the current 200 hopper bands sites in both pasture and farmlands as well as urban centers.

“Turkana is now the epicenter of Desert Locust control measures, with the highest number of hopper band sites reported. The number of counties infested with desert locusts now has reduced from 28 to four counties. That is Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo,” he said.

FAO said it has also collaborated with some partners to support counties to mobilize the movement of ground teams to perform both surveillance and control measures in the most affected counties.

According to the UN, about 3.1 million people in arid and semi-arid areas of the country are food insecure, and increased breeding of desert locusts, coupled with the current flooding as well as COVID-19 pandemic, poses a wider risk of food and pasture shortage.

According to FAO, about 25.3 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are facing high levels of acute food insecurity, which is 28 percent of the case-load of Africa.

Of these, more than 11 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are located in areas currently affected by the desert locust infestations, said FAO.

It said despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the current floods, desert locust surveillance and control measures continue in earnest.


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Kenyan police nab 3 terror suspects with explosive materials




Kenyan police said they are interrogating three terror suspects who were arrested on Friday while ferrying explosive materials along Nairobi-Namanga highway.

The security forces from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said the three suspects were arrested near Maili Tisa trading center with bomb-making materials.

“Explosive materials including 17 rolls of detonating codes and one packet containing 100 pieces of supreme detonators have been recovered by a multi-agency team of officers,” DCI said in a statement on Friday evening.

The three include a foreign national aged 26 years.

The DCI said they have launched investigations into the incident. Namanga is near the Kenya-Tanzania border.

“The suspects are in lawful custody pending further police action. Further investigations on the matter are ongoing,” said the DCI.

The police hold that many al-Shabab returnees are holed in Kenya especially in northern and coastal regions.

The militants have since changed tactics and resorted to abductions and using improvised explosive devices to carry out attacks in parts of the two regions, according to police.


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Kenya’s tourism stakeholders mull safety measures amid COVID-19 pandemic




Kenya’s tourism and hospitality sector players vowed on Friday to adhere to all safety and hygiene protocols against COVID-19 pandemic to instill confidence to both domestic and international travelers.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), a government marketing body, said hospitality has been among the first sectors in the country to be reopened with eateries and restaurants gradually reopening within set out guidelines of safety.

Betty Radier, KTB CEO, said safety measures against COVID-19 new normal operating environment is a priority which will be only achieved through well-defined industry protocols.

“The opening of travel will begin with domestic, here we should begin to show our preparedness and that we are ready to make sure that they are safe within our facilities,” Radier said during a tourism sector roundtable webinar hosted by the KTB.

The meeting brought together industry players to deliberate on the sector’s preparedness for resumption.

She pointed out that already facilities were picking and embracing hygiene and preparedness protocols.

“We have been able to see that with Nairobi National Park showing clarity in protocols and this has seen an increase in visitor uptake to the facility,” Radier said.

Kenya tourism is the third-largest source of foreign exchange, supporting about 1.5 million jobs especially in rural areas and dominates the service sector.

Mike Macharia, CEO of Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) said that he was confident that the industry is able to ensure that there is a set of protocols that are strictly adhered to by all to ensure that clients are confident with the services provided.

“As an industry, we have come up with a set of protocols. We believe that we can win this fight, we just need to focus. What is required is communication on behavioral change especially in other subsectors like transport to ensure that the numbers don’t continue to increase,” Macharia.

Alex Gitari, acting managing director of the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), said that the organization is aligned to the measures that have been provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“I want to confirm that all the measures that we have come up with are in line with what ICAO provided. Some of them to mention a few are sanitization from the screening yard to the terminal building. We are also disinfecting the equipment within the airport as well as physical distancing within the premises of the airports,” Gitati said.


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Kenya pledges to expand green areas




Kenya joined the international community in marking the World Environment Day on Friday by vowing to expand green areas across the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who led government and private sector representatives in a tree planting exercise to commemorate the day said the government is fully committed to the conservation agenda.

He said the government will step up efforts to expand the number and size of conservancies, arboreta, parks and wildlife reserves so as to ensure the country’s botanical and zoological diversity is maintained.

Kenyatta listed a number of ongoing initiatives, including the restoration of Michuki Park, the expansion of Nairobi National Park and the reclamation of grabbed forest land.

“We are also reclaiming our Ngong Forest and we are going to start the process of fencing it and ensuring that it is also available not only for the present but for future generations,” he said.

“We have done in the last one month another 2,000 acres for Nairobi National Park and this is what we want to continue doing including restoration of various green areas, among them rehabilitation of City Park,” said the president.

He underscored the key role that forests play as a reservoir of biodiversity, saying Kenya is on course to achieving the 10 percent national tree cover target.

As part of the government’s conservation agenda, Kenyatta said all major infrastructure projects including the Standard Gauge Railway are being implemented in a manner that ensures that biodiversity is not tampered with.

“As a government, we have also taken steps to ensure that the infrastructure projects being implemented, which are a key driver of economic growth, do not cause any degradation to our natural habitats and biodiversity,” he said.

Kenyatta called for closer cooperation between government entities, the private sector and local communities, saying such collaborations have enabled Kenya to register a fall in wildlife poaching incidents, illegal logging and human-wildlife conflicts.


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Kenya bans single-use plastic in parks, public spaces



Kenya’s ban on single-use plastic in protected areas, such as beaches, forests and national parks, came into effect on June 5, to coincide with World Environment Day.

“The ban underlines the government’s commitment in addressing the plastic pollution menace,” Najib Balala, secretary for tourism and wildlife, said in a statement.

Kenya banned single-use plastic bags in 2017, but the government later decided to expand this initiative.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the revised restrictions last year.

Environmental group FlipFlopi welcomed the news, saying it would prohibit visitors from carrying plastic bottles, cups, disposable plates, cutlery and straws into conservation areas.

“We have witnessed the catastrophic effect single-use plastics have on our ecosystems and our communities,” said Dipesh Pabari, project leader for FlipFlopi, which built a sailing boat out of waste to raise awareness of the scourge threatening the world’s oceans.

“And now, during the [coronavirus] pandemic, we are witnessing first-hand what happens when we destroy our planet,” he said.

However, activist James Wakibia told dpa: “I would have preferred it if the ban were countrywide, and not just in protected areas,” adding that most plastics get into those areas via other channels, such as rivers, rather than the main gates.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry said research showed a decline in plastic bags in coastal areas since the 2017 ban.

“This shows that the polythene bags ban intervention had a direct impact in reducing the amount of marine litter reaching the oceans,” it noted in a statement.


Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Kenya coffee farmers adopt home processing to seek better prices




Some small-scale coffee farmers in Kenya have started processing their coffee to protect the quality, aiming to get a share of the lucrative premium export market where quality coffee beans fetch a premium price.

Data from the Nairobi Coffee Exchange shows that top quality coffee known as AA grade fetched up to 45,326 shillings (about 427 United States dollars) per 50-kg bag compared to a price of 199 dollars fetched by the majority of the coffee during the auction that ended on May 24th.

Samuel Muchiri, 44, a farmer in Kirinyaga County in central Kenya is among small-scale farmers who have embraced home-based processing to avoid mixing their coffee with the rest of farmers in order to maintain quality and therefore get a better price.

“Coffee has money. But it needs to be of high-quality coffee. That is why I decided to do home processing to ensure I maintain high quality,” Muchiri told Xinhua on Friday at his farm.

When the coffee is processed at home, it is then taken to a miller where it is also milled separately and then graded ready for auction in the capital Nairobi or direct export.

Traditionally in Kenya, green harvested coffee is taken to a common processing factory owned by farmers where different grades are mixed.

Although grading happens later when the coffee is milled, the final payment is usually an average of the price fetched by all the grades, meaning that those farmers who have to take care of their coffee to get a better grade are not rewarded.

According to Muchiri, processing his coffee at home has enabled him to earn at least double and sometimes triple the amount of money earned by other farmers who sell through the cooperative societies.

“My coffee goes to the market as organically grown and therefore specialty coffee, which fetches a premium,” he said.

Gichuki Wambari, 54, from Nyeri County also in central Kenya, said he invested some 1,000 dollars in machinery to process his coffee.

“The pay from home processed coffee is better than processing and selling collectively,” he said.

He said although he is yet to establish a stable market for his coffee which he processes and then outsources the milling services, he is realizing better returns.

Home processing is part of the ongoing formal and informal reforms taking place in the coffee industry which was once Kenya’s largest foreign exchange earner.

President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed a committee to advise and steer reforms in the industry in 2016. The final report from the committee will be ready in July, said its head, Joseph Kieyah.

Kenya’s ministry of agriculture has also been pursuing new markets for coffee in China and the Middle East to reduce dependency on the traditional European market.


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Kenya announces ban on single-use plastics in forest reserves




Kenya on Friday banned single-use plastics in forest reserves while encouraging adoption of wooden, metallic and reusable plastic containers that are less polluting.

Julius Kamau, chief conservator of forests said in a statement issued in Nairobi that the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) will begin enforcing the national ban on Single-Use Plastics in forest reserves with effect from June 5.

“The ban covers public forests managed by KFS, that comprise 2.59 million hectares and those managed by the County governments and communities that make up 1.7 million hectares,” Kamau said.

He said that KFS has developed guidelines for the implementation of the national ban with an overall goal of contributing to the sustainable management of plastic waste in the country.

KFS is rolling out programs to educate stakeholders, promote appropriate alternatives to the use of single-use plastics in the forest areas, sensitize communities on the laws and regulations and ensure the ban is fully enforced, “said Kamau.

He said that the use of polythene tubes to grow seedlings in nurseries managed by KFS and other stakeholders will also come to an end.

He said that KFS has developed a transition plan that will guide the use of polythene tubes in tree nurseries, with a policy of reusing and recycling being applied in all forest reserves.

Kamau said that accommodation facilities, nature trails, picnic sites, tree platforms, boardwalks, canopy walks, guided tours, adventure activities, quarry sites, construction sites and installation sites within forest reserves will be subject to the ban on single-use plastic.

The outlawed single-use plastics include disposable plastic water bottles, disposable cutlery, non-woven plastic carrier bags, confectionary and snack wrappers, disposable sanitary items, wet wipes, single use toiletries packaged in plastics.

Dumping waste in a forest without authority is prohibited and any person convicted of this, is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three million shillings (about 30,000 United States dollars) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.


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Feature: Kenyan slum dwellers on edge amid spike in COVID-19 cases




Johnston Waweru huddles around a communal water point with nearly ten other people, all eagerly waiting to fetch water, a precious commodity in the informal settlement area. Here, the idea of social distancing is a myth.

The middle-aged casual laborer is a resident of the densely inhabited Kiambiu slums, located on the eastern edges of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Kiambiu slum is characterized by littered broken bottles, haphazardly disposed face coverings, the trade of uncovered cooked food and close engagements of area residents oblivious of a looming danger.

Waweru’s living environment mirrors the circumstances inhibiting containment measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus in Kenya’s informal settlement areas.

“Social distancing is impossible if not unachievable because of our poor economic status. Our quarters are thinly spaced out leaving no adequate space for the pathways,” said Waweru. “It is common to rub shoulders with people along the narrow paths.”

Last year’s national census put Kenya’s urban informal settlement population at over 1.5 million. The presence of a large population coupled with poor sanitation has made these areas a ticking time bomb.

Some major slums in Nairobi that have seen a spike of positive cases include, Kibra, Mathare, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Mukuru kwa Ruben and Kawangware.

The government established an exponential rise in cases after conducting targeted testing in these areas.

Waweru says that his community is aware of a simmering health crisis, however implementing some directives such as hunkering down at home is not an option for people who live from hand to mouth.

“We are making use of handwashing stations donated by well-wishers as well as donning our face masks but we still feel at risk. Financial constraints have kept residents with underlying health conditions out of hospital, leaving them vulnerable to COVID-19,” Waweru told Xinhua during a recent interview.

Kibra, the largest slum in Africa has recorded more than 200 positive cases and the government has alluded at introducing further measures in addition to the dawn to dusk curfew, to protect the area from a disastrous eventuality.

“We are continuing to watch this epicenter within Kibra and are mapping out clusters because it’s possible that not the entire Kibra has cases. Meanwhile, measures to completely lock them down are on the table and the government will effect this when it feels it’s necessary,” said Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary, Ministry of Health.

On account of this situation, community interventions as well as grass-root authority has been singled out by health experts as an effective way of sensitizing communities living in the urban slums.

“My administration has been conducting community sensitization through community healthcare volunteers who move from home to home educating residents on preventive inexpensive measures they can adopt to keep the disease at bay,” said Paul Runo, an administrator at Kiambiu slums.

He said that his administration continues to receive donations of masks, sanitizers as well as soap from the national government while reiterating his commitment to working with local communities to protect them from the disease.

“My administration will continue to enforce comprehensive and rigorous preventive measures to ensure the disease does not penetrate into the area,” said Runo.

Even as Kenya started recording COVID-19 cases in three digits, President Uhuru Kenyatta recently hinted at de-escalating restriction measures in the country.

“We cannot be in lockdown forever, we have to reopen our economy somehow as much as we are seeing cases rising. We are also seeing more people recovering and not many people dying,” Kenyatta said.


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Roundup: Kenyans ready for partial lifting of COVID-19 restrictions




A cloud of expectation hangs over Kenya as citizens are ready for the easing of some restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

Private businesses, places of worship and government offices are among entities that are gearing up for the resumption of operations after June 6, the day when current restrictions end and President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to review the measures.

Kenyatta hinted that the government will loosen some of the restrictions, noting that lockdowns and curfews are unsustainable in the long term.

He noted that once the restrictions are partially lifted, citizens will be expected to remain responsible by wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distancing to curb the spread of the disease.

Kenya imposed a partial lockdown in the capital Nairobi and four other counties some 70 days ago and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew across the country, which are the restrictions lauded for slowing down infections.

But they have affected business for schools, gyms, bars and hotels, among others, with up to 1.2 million people losing jobs, according to the Labor Ministry of Kenya.

It is these businesses that are ready to reopen by installing handwashing and sanitation points and measures to enforce social distancing.

At a hotel along Moi Avenue in the central business district in Nairobi on Thursday, a worker was busy fumigating the facility.

In a separate section, another was remodeling chairs and tables to comply with measures to curb the spread of the disease in anticipation of the partial reopening of the country.

And at the entrance, a handwashing point was prominently installed as well as sanitizers at various points.

Like many other such facilities, all its workers would be expected to take COVID-19 tests and get certificates to show they are free of the disease.

“We were not offering to take away services or did not open earlier because it did not make sense to reopen when workers are still at home. But we believe this is the right time when the government is expected to loosen some restrictions,” said a worker introduced as Martin Kinuthia.

Places of worship are also instituting measures to allow the resumption of services.

Among the new protocols, they are taking the use of thermo guns, having shorter services, ensuring all worshippers sanitize by washing hands and installation of sanitation booths and everyone must wear face masks.

“As we wait for the presidential directive, it has been agreed upon by the government and religious leaders that the following measures must be taken. There shall be a sitting plan with markings on the floor where chairs will be placed observing the 1.5 meter rule in all directions,” said John Kitula, the administrative secretary of the African Inland Church.

Other places of worship, including mosques, will follow the same protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Karanja Kibicho, Interior Principal Secretary of Kenya, said on Wednesday that the government has found itself in a tight spot since the outbreak of the disease, whose cases have taken an upward trajectory, clocking 2,340 on Thursday.

“We cannot stay in a lockdown forever, as a government we make money from taxes but most people are currently not working. We must reopen the economy but under strict guidelines,” said Kibicho.

But as the cloud of optimism hangs over Kenya amid the rise in infections, health experts have warned that most citizens are throwing caution to the wind by resuming old behavior that does not help to curb the spread of the virus.

Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Thursday acknowledged that the government would ease some of the restrictions as it moves to adopt a home-care approach, but COVID-19 remains a huge threat to the east African nation.


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