, 29 November, 2019 / 1:46 AM
The four-day multi-agency conference on agroecology concluded Thursday, November 28, in Kenya’s Nyahururu town with participants resolving to draw inspiration from the social teaching of the Catholic Church and to engage various actors especially young people among other commitments that can enhance food security and environmental protection in the East African country.
“We commit to undertake all our interventions in reference to the Catholic social teaching,” reads part of the communique issued at the end of the conference.
“We further affirm that we will maintain our Catholic identity as we engage various actors in innovative approaches in agroecology,” the statement seen by ACI Africa reads further.
The innovative strategies outlined in the communique are ways that can safeguard the environment and some techniques to “address the needs of the poorest and most marginalized communities in Kenya.”
Focusing on empowering the Kenyan youth facing unemployment, the estimated 80 participants “recognize youth empowerment as a priority concern in our country” and acknowledged that engaging in “agroecology provides a promising solution as a source for decent jobs and economic gains for the youths.”
“We resolve to utilize the energy, creativity and skilled task force of the youth,” participants in the multi-agency conference resolved referencing the Holy Father’s call, in his Post-synodal Exhortation to young people and the entire people of God “Christus Vivit”, where Pope Francis “encourages the Christian community to involve the youth through our embrace and concrete help.”
Convened under the theme “Food for all, care of our common home,” the participants who came from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Malawi recognized the value of engaging the traditional and digital means of communication and resolved to “work closely with actors in mainstream media and other platforms such as social media to promote agroecology.”
“We are committed to promote Agroecology farming as a means to enable farmers to increase their produce,” the multi-agency forum resolved.
Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has described agroecology as “an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems.”
The participants resolved to embrace agroecology farming by “investing more resources in the market section of the value chain, supporting agroecological annual market days and promoting networks to encourage aggregation and bargain for better prices on farmers' produce.”
“We further resolve to document indigenous knowledge on agroecology for information sharing,” the participants in the conference have stated in their collective communique.
Planned by the umbrella organization for Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America (CIDSE) and Caritas Africa, the participants resolved to spearhead “the capacity building of partners on agroecology and advocacy,” and to “facilitate access to water and support the establishment of seed banks through collaboration with households, community groups and other institutions.”
They also reached out to Bishops in Africa, urging them to “take a lead on advocacy on agroecology with a focus on food safety and security at national and county levels.”
Speaking about his impressions as a participant in the conference, the director of Caritas and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) in Kenya’s Kisumu Archdiocese, Fr. Samuel Nyattaya told ACI Africa, “The nature, the amount, and the frequency, of chemical usage in our farms (small scale, medium scale, or large scale) can be so shocking. If we are to remain obedient to the Catholic Social Teachings especially Laudato Si’, we must propagate agroecology; we must use our platforms – and they are many – to enlighten the people or else they will (sadly) continue dying for lack of knowledge.”
“The conference has been very informative, as the County of Isiolo we have been working on climate change policies and it's something that influences our food security aspects,” Lamech Onyari who is the monitoring and evaluation officer of Kenya’s Isiolo diocese told ACI Africa.
Mr. Onyari added, “It is very clear that if we involve agroecology in our implementation especially of livelihood projects, we are likely to address food security challenges. Integrating agroecology and re-afforestation will address climate change and food security.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa