Laudato Si’ An Inspiration to Ongoing Multi-Agency Conference on Agroecology in Kenya

Fr. John Nene (standing - Caritas Nyahururu); From left: Stephen KItuku (Caritas Kenya), Dennis Kioko (Trocaire), Stellamaris Muelar (Fastenopfer), Margaret Mwaniki (Caritas Africa), and Hellen Owiti (Trocaire)

Some four years after Pope Francis released the Encyclical Letter ‘Laudato si’ (on care for our common home) in which he made recommendations toward environmental protection and decried human activities leading to degradation and global warming, the widely circulated document has inspired the multi-agency conference on agroecology, the first of its kind in the East African country of Kenya, one of the organizers of the four-day event told ACI Africa in Nyahururu, the venue of the convention.

“Laudato si’ is the inspiration of this conference; it is the root, moral guide of agroecology and you find that most of the principles of agroecology underline that. At the heart of agroecology is human dignity and care for creation,” Kenya Coordinator for Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, Fastenopfer, Stellamaris Muelar told ACI Africa in an interview.

“The Pope has spoken so much about production and smallholder farmers. In a world of exploitation, the smallholder farmers still hold the key,” Ms. Muelar said and added in reference to the Holy Father, “He is talking about an agriculture that takes care of the environment.”

“If you apply fertilizer in the farm, you will not see an earthworm, yet it is part of God's creation. If you apply fertilizers, it lowers the water quality,” she said on the first day of the conference Monday, November 25.

Acknowledging the Holy Father’s inspiration in the conceptualization of the conference, Ms. Muelar highlighted the concerns Pope Francis raised “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)” and probed, “Is it possible to have GMOs that do not affect the environment and still respect life?”


While giving an overview of the conference, Caritas Africa’s Partnership, Research and Exchanges Program Officer, Margaret Mwaniki reminded conference participants of the Pope’s call in Laudato Si’ saying, “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.” 

On his part, the Bishop of Kenya’s Nyahururu diocese Joseph Mbatia who presided over the official opening of the conference and delivered the keynote address described the agroecology conference as “timely as it gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we can promote an agricultural practice that prioritizes the needs of farmers and minimizes the negative effects of our actions on resources and the environment.”

Referencing Laudato Si’, the Kenyan Prelate said, “The Holy Father questions the current models of development, and invites us to engage in a dialogue that re-defines progress and promotes development in ways that benefit all – particularly the poorest and most vulnerable.”

“Pope Francis further reminds us that we are dust of the earth (Gen 2:7) we are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it,” Bishop Mbatia said and added in reference to the Holy Father, “He further observes that as a result of human activity, the earth is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth (LS§21)”

Convened under the theme, “Food for All, Care for Our Common Home,” the conference was organized by the umbrella organization for Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America (CIDSE) and Caritas Africa.

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With funding from Fastenopfer, Trocaire and through Caritas Africa by Misereor, Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), Caritas Germany, Caritas Italiana and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the conference has brought together some 80 participants from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Malawi.