Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko on Tuesday was applauded for his efforts to beautify Nairobi the United Nations meeting in New York.
Sonko was also praised for his pledge to hasten construction of markets in at least all wards within the region in line with the Sustainable Development Goal on Food Security and Jubilee government Big Four Agenda.
Speaking during the UN General Assembly in New York, Sonko said he taken a number of steps to address the issue of food shortage on Nairobi.
“My County Government is in the process of constructing several markets to ensure more people have access to fresh produce a short distance from their homes,” said Sonko.
He said they have also set up a Food System Directorate tasked with ensuring that residents have access to safe food, of good quality, at affordable prices, wherever they live.
Sonko said agriculture has been the mainstay of Kenya’s economy and directly contributes 24 per cent of the GDP.
About 45 per cent Government revenue is from Agriculture and the sector contributes 75 per cent of industrial raw material.
“Over 80 per cent of households, especially in rural areas depend on Agriculture. However, One would be forgiven for thinking that with these statistics, there is an abundance of food everywhere,” he said.
He said more than half of Nairobi’s nearly 1 million households live on total expenditure of less than 70 US Dollars a month.
“With this kind of budget, most of the households cannot afford more than one decent meal a day. In most instances, the meals lack basic nutrients because they cannot afford tomatoes, onions or even fresh vegetables,” said Sonko.
Sonko blamed a cartel-like distribution system, a market that is very difficult to penetrate, lack of market information to enable consumers make informed choices; and a small number of physical market spaces that make it difficult for the poor to access quality products.
“In Nairobi, we now have a Food Markets Information System that enables residence to know where foodstuff is available, and at what price. This helps to enable consumers make informed choices, although the system is still not yet in wide use,” said Sonko.
He said the platform is accessible on mobile phones and will play the important role of linking producers and consumers, thus cutting out middlemen who contribute to the high prices of food.
The City Governor said food storage facilities are important to ensure minimal wastage.
“In our city, we are setting up bulk cold storage centres where fresh produce will be preserved as it is distributed to small scale retailers. In addition, we have stationed Food Safety Officers at all entry points into the city to check that food being transported to Nairobi is safe,” Sonko told the delegates attending the UN meeting.
The President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said it was an honour to host the county governors, mayors and presidents of municipalities to participate in the global agenda of food security.