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Media can nurture climate resilience and sustainable agriculture in Kenya

By Lucy Mwangi

In a lush corner of Gilgil, Nakuru County, something striking was sprouting amid the picturesque landscapes of Kenya. The Media Council of Kenya, in an ambitious collaboration with Seed Savers Network Kenya, embarked on a journey to sow the seeds of awareness, nurture the shoots of knowledge, and harvest a sustainable future for agriculture and the environment. At the heart of this endeavour was a two-day media sensitisation workshop that sought to amplify awareness of climate change resilience and sustainable agriculture.

The MCK, recognising the pivotal role media plays in shaping public opinion and policy, joined hands with SSN Kenya to address a pressing issue: Climate change and its profound impact on agriculture. The objective was clear – to educate, empower, and inspire journalists, farmers, and food activists to become agents of change in the fight against climate change.

On October 5, 2023, under the azure Kenyan skies, the workshop sprouted to life. Daniel Wanjama, director of SSN Kenya, welcomed the diverse assembly, setting the stage for what would become a transformative experience. Participants, hailing from various walks of life, shared their expectations, revealing a collective thirst for knowledge about indigenous foods.

Christine Nguku, MCK Assistant Director of Training & Curriculum Development, highlighted the media’s potential to amplify the voices of farmers leading the charge in sustainable agriculture. This sentiment underscored the essence of the workshop – bridging the gap between those who toil on the land and those who wield the pen.

Wanjama unveiled SSN’s profile, showcasing their network of over 74,000 farmers and activists. It was revealed that an astonishing 80 per cent of Kenya’s food is produced by these dedicated individuals. Yet, they grapple with challenges ranging from seed sovereignty laws to agro-biodiversity loss. Dr Wanjiru Kamau, an indigenous food activist, resonated with the ancient wisdom of farming. She cautioned against “mortgaging our bodies to doctors” and emphasized the importance of conscious planting. Wanjiru’s outlined the essence of sustainable agriculture practiced by our forefathers, where seasons were well-understood, and land size was not a constraint.

A central theme emerged from the rich soil of knowledge shared during the workshop: The inseparable connection between food security and food sovereignty. Lilian Samoei, an agronomist from Egerton University, revealed a startling fact – only 30 per cent of Kenya’s seed system is certified, leading to a shortage of certified seeds. Indigenous crops, with their drought tolerance and adaptation to local conditions, emerged as heroes.

Leo Mutisya, Manager of Research, Planning & Strategy at MCK, challenged journalists to take up the mantle of climate change reporting. He emphasised the critical threats of climate change, ecosystem degradation, and social inequality, calling on media to bring these issues into the spotlight.

In the idyllic landscape of Gilgil, Nakuru County, the MCK and SSN Kenya planted the seeds of transformation. This workshop was not merely an event but a movement—a call to action for journalists, farmers, and activists to cultivate change. The stories shared, knowledge imparted, and insights gained form the soil in which a more resilient, sustainable future will grow.

Climate change may look like a storm cloud, but with knowledge, awareness, and action, we can turn the tide. As the workshop concluded, participants ventured into the Kikopey Seed Fair, embodying the spirit of change, armed with newfound knowledge and determination. In the partnership between the MCK and SSN Kenya, the seeds of change have been sown—now, it’s time to watch them flourish.

Writer is research officer at MCK

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