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Kenya

 

About the Implementing organization

BIODIVERSITY AND BIOSAFETY ASSOCIATION OF KENYA

Country: Kenya

Year of establishment: 2007

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization, Legally recognized non-profit status

Website: http://www.biba.co.ke

Description

Over the last decade and a half, there has been an orchestrated pressure to have African countries adopt genetic engineering and to start cultivating genetically modified crops. The campaign is bankrolled by giant biotech companies in collaboration with some developed countries with the main interest being to increase its global market share for seed and agrochemicals in the continent and elsewhere in the world. The companies have been financing a powerful GM-lobby that has widespread influence with policy makers, academia as well as the media. The giant biotech companies are interested in increasing market share for seed and agrochemicals.

However, the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA), an umbrella body representing over 60 member organisations whose main objective is to ensure the public is AWARE and ALERT on issues of concern on environment, agriculture, livestock, food safety and health and biodiversity, works with small scale farmers and has been calling upon the Kenya government, as well as other African governments, to tread carefully before embracing the GMOs. BIBA’s stand is informed by the fact that the application of other ‘traditional’ options such as land reforms, irrigation, and adoption of sustainable agro-ecological practices, like organic farming, as well as preservation of indigenous farming techniques has been proved to offer better, long-term results for societies struggling to feed ever-growing population.

BIBA, together with other partners, contributed in influencing the decision of Kenyan Cabinet to ban the importation of GMO food stuffs in Kenya in 2012, and engaged with the Prof. KIhumbu Thairu Taskforce appointed to advise on the ban and championed for its sustenance. This ban remains in place even though the government has not released the Prof. Kihumbu Thairu Task Force report almost 6 year after it was completed.

Food Sovereignty and the Right to Food is a fundamental pillar in BIBA’s work as we focus on guidance provided by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The IAASTD recommends that policy makers move away from industrial agriculture and GMOs, to food production systems that are appropriate for the millions of small-scale farmers around the world, who are primarily responsible for the global population’s sustenance.

The promotion of GM technology in agriculture has been done under the guise that GMOs are needed to address food insecurity in Kenya and other African countries whereas classic examples from South Africa, India and Burkina Faso, among many others, demonstrate huge failures in the GM technology; this has been coupled with bans by countries of GMOs citing food safety, health and environmental concerns.

The promotion of GM technology in agriculture has been done under the guise that GMOs are needed to address food insecurity in Kenya and other African countries whereas classic examples from South Africa, India and Burkina Faso, among many others, demonstrate huge failures in the GM technology; this has been coupled with bans by countries of GMOs citing food safety, health and environmental concerns.

The Constitution in the Bill of rights, Article 431c provides that every person has the right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of acceptable quality. The Constitution in Article 46 further states that consumers have

the right to information necessary for them to gain benefit from goods and services as well as protection of their health and safety. It is imperative that the quality is free from adverse substances and acceptable within given culture.

BIBA Kenya together with its members have greatly contributed in influencing policies geared towards sustainable food production such as incorporation of organic farming, agroecology, integrated pest and disease management to minimise the use of chemicals so as to ensure safe food production.

Nature Element

Forests︱Wetlands︱Rivers

Type of Action

Ecosystem protection︱Sustainable use of natural resources︱Policy influence︱Climate-resilient food and agriculture

Sustainable Development Element

Food security︱Health︱Sustainable consumption and production︱Partnerships

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

          

Environmental Impacts

BIBA Kenya has promoted environmental conservation consciousness among its members and the public. Its farmers have been trained in environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources to reduce over exploitation, use of green energy such as solar energy, biogas for energy production, water harvesting and storage from roof tops, intergrated pest and disease management to minimise the use of pesticides as well as herbicides.

Member of BIBA have also been keen in the restoration of lost tree cover and are keen on forest conservation. Various tree planting campaigns have taken place with smallholder farmers being encouraged to maintain woodlots on their land.

Many communities have been transformed as good stewards of the environment.


CLIMATE IMPACTS

Climate change has adversely affected the ecosystem and the society. Unpredictable rainfall patterns which in turn affects crop yields is a global going concern. BIBA Kenya has collaborated and worked with key experts in climate change, agronomists as well as the county governments to train and engage smallholder farmers on agroecology and integrated pest management in different parts of the country to ensure that there is sustainable use of the natural resources as per their ecological zones.

We promote the use of locally adapted traditional seeds that are drought resistant and resilient to adverse climate change so as to ensure higher yields with low production costs by using agroecology.

We also encourage farmers to diversify their production so as to spread risks as well as pest and disease management using Integrated Pest Management and permaculture.

Sustainable Development Impacts

1. Food Security

More than 75% of our farmers are seed and food secure. They are now cognizant of sustainable food production which is safe for human consumption.

2.Sustainable consumption and production

Continuous advocacy to ensure that the public is aware of safe food production and consumption patterns. Promotion of organic markets for healthier living.

3.Health

Ensured consumer awareness on impacts of environmental degradation to our health and livelihoods. Nature gives back to what it gets.

4.Partnerships

Healthy partnerships with the policy influencers, members, political leadership and other stakeholders is essential.


RESILIENCE, ADAPTABILITY, AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY

The appreciation and adaptation efforts in promoting farmer managed seed systems (FMSS) has led to the appreciation of farmers as breeders in their own right. The farmers have been able to select, multiply and save their local seeds which are resilient to the extreme weather patterns quite common with the changing climate.

This has ensured that farmers have access to resilient seeds that they own as opposed to buying seeds every season from the multinationals. The resilient seeds and the diversification of crops planted has increased access to affordable food and thus is an improvement in smallholder farmer livelihoods.

An improved and nutritious diet has enabled farmers to be capable in other income generating activities like weaving, honey production, basket making, and in the value-addition of products like peanuts to peanut butter.Smallholder farmers have access to cheaper sources of seeds and food which accounts for a greater portion on household budget.

With the savings made in food costs, families are able to save by coming together in table banking and community banking initiatives and can access cheap loans to send their children to school, construct better houses and access cheaper sources of energy like improved cook stoves, solar power and even biogas for household energy needs.


REDUCED INEQUALITIES

Smallholder farmers have access to cheaper sources of seeds and food which accounts for a greater portion on household budget.

With the savings made in food costs, families are able to save by coming together in table banking and community banking initiatives and can access cheap loans to send their children to school, construct better houses and access cheaper sources of energy like improved cook stoves, solar power and even biogas for household energy needs.


GENDER EQUALITY

Traditionally women have been the custodians of seeds in all African households. They are also the primary caregivers and play a key role in the preparation of food for the family.

The project has primarily focused on both youth and elderly women to promote intergenerational learning on making key household decisions on food choices, food preparation and nutrition for the family. Once the women are able to have access to cheaper sources of seeds, their food budgets are greatly reduced.

To further empower the women, BIBA has trained them on nutrition and village saving schemes where women are able to borrow money to establish small businesses, pay school fees, construct better houses and engage in value addition of their products like from peanuts they are able to produce peanut butter.


SOCIAL INCLUSION

While working on reviving lost seeds, the elder have been engaged even in showcasing the nutritional benefits and how local delicacies were prepared.

Women have been traditional custodians of seeds and have been engaged in training the youth and young farmers on how seed selection, multiplication and preservation is done to keep the vitality of local seeds.

We have promoted traditional seed festivals and seed fairs to promote local seeds and foods like the Ura Gate cultural festival in Tharaka Nithi County. Seed fairs also attract many people from all walks of life to appreciate the consumption and promotion of local food varieties.

Scalability

The campaign for environmental conservations and sustainable consumption habits has been undertaken in several counties in Kenya including Nairobi, Nakuru, Machakos, Makueni, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Migori. Success has been share widely within the country and this has attracted the support of other county governments like Kirinyaga and Kiambu counties keen to promote organic farming and other agroecological practices.

At the national level, BIBA remains a voice raising key concerns on the environmental and socio-economic impacts that consumers may face with the introduction of genetically modified organisms. We remain a key voice that has influenced the development of labelling laws as we educate Kenyans on the need to consume organically produced foods.

Replicability

We have supported and influenced the establishment of key advocacy groups in other countries like the Tanzania Biodiversity Alliance (TABIO), Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), GMO Free Nigeria, Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB). The national networks have learnt from the Kenyan experience are now working on promoting environmental conservation in their respective countries.

Close partnership and collaboration has enabled us to undertake joint advocacy and lobbying initiatives to influence policy at national and within the region working with the likes of the East Africa Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and ARIPO.

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