The Virtual Institute organized a professional development workshop on food security and international trade for 16 Kenyan academics and representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture November 24-25. Hosted by Vi core member, the University of Nairobi (UON), workshop participants included post-graduate students and lecturers from UON, Egerton University and Kenyatta University.
Delivered by Samuel Gayi, Head of UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities, the objective of the workshop was to enhance participants' knowledge and skills with regard to the relationship between food security and trade. An important topic for the country, given that although Kenya has liberalized its economy, more than 10 million of its people still suffer from food insecurity.
On the first day, a combination of lectures and hands-on exercises guided the participants through the key dimensions of food security, including gender.
"I gained insight into current issues and trends on food security debate and the role of international trade in promoting security in Africa," one of the participants said. "The gender dimensions on food security were really interesting," added another.
The second day was dedicated to the relationship between international trade and food security, with a special focus on the policy perspective. Participants particularly appreciated the discussion on WTO agreements and how they impact food security in Kenya.
"This will be useful when writing policy advisory papers to policymakers ahead of WTO related meetings," commented a trainee.
The last session of the workshop was dedicated to group work on the causes of food insecurity in Kenya and the policy measures that each group would propose to the government to address the situation.
"Samuel Gayi's grasp of food security and trade issues was outstanding," commented on of the participants. "He took us on a mental journey, encouraging us to be strategic about public policy in matters of agriculture and international trade."
Feedback from participants indicated multiple future applications for the newly acquired knowledge in their teaching, policy advisory services and research.
"I will use this knowledge in my advisory work and our Master’s training programme on agricultural policies and management," said one of the participants. Others said they would apply what they have learned in teaching courses on agricultural economics, policy analysis and international economics.
"I would like to look at investments and food insecurity in urban areas and the role of governments and gender-based food insecurity in Kenya," said one of the trainees. "I intend to examine the supply responses to food security policies in the WTO framework," planned another.