Murang’a sets the pace with Agroecology Policy and Act
Murang’a County has made history as the first county in Kenya to enact a policy and Act targeting agroecology. This milestone provides a legal framework to promote sustainable agricultural practices. The collaborative launch of Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act on 9 March 2023, by the county government, Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE), and stakeholders, is expected to positively impact farmers’ livelihoods in the region. Faith Gikunda, Communication, Advocacy, and Gender Officer at ICE, and Hannah Kigamba, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at ABN, share Murang’a County’s story.
Murang’a County in Kenya has taken a significant step towards promoting sustainable and regenerative agriculture by enacting a policy and Act specifically targeting agroecology. The launch of the Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act on 9 March, is a historic moment as Murang’a becomes the first county in Kenya to embrace agroecology through a legal framework. This achievement is the result of nearly two years of collaboration between the Murang’a County Government, Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE), and various stakeholders, including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), farmers, and the private sector. The Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act are expected to set a precedent for other counties in Kenya and beyond, providing a platform to promote agroecology principles and practices, address food system challenges, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Collaborative efforts pay off
Murang’a County has emerged as a trailblazer for other counties and stakeholders in Kenya advocating for agroecology principles and practices. Despite the promising future of agroecology, its growth has been hindered by limited political support and lack of legal regulatory frameworks. However, with the enactment of the Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act, the government and agricultural stakeholders are now obligated to provide technical and financial support to enhance the application of agroecology, leading to improved food production, economic opportunities for farmers, and healthier communities.
During the launch of the Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act, Stephen Munania, Murang’a County Deputy Governor, urged stakeholders to embrace joint implementation efforts and collaborate to support agroecology initiatives. He emphasized that this would position Murang’a as a center of excellence for healthy foods produced using agroecological methods. Martin Muriuki, Executive Director of ICE, commended the unity among stakeholders during the process of formulating the Policy and the Act. He highlighted that the policy and act recognize the importance of collaboration and building synergies among stakeholders working in the county.
Farmers in Murang’a County were thrilled about the recognition of their hard work in producing safe and healthy food. Proudly showcasing their agroecology products during the launch, they expressed optimism about the future of agroecology and pledged to work closely with the county government and other stakeholders to transform food systems in Kenya. Agroecology is seen as a relief for farmers in Murang’a County, particularly in the face of rising costs of inputs. This sustainable farming approach offers them the opportunity to apply local knowledge and traditional farming methods to produce low-cost farm applications, making it a sustainable and economically viable option.
Lucy Mungai, a farmer from Kangari in Murang’a County, spoke with joy, saying, “We have been practicing agroecology for a long time, and we are glad that it is now being officially recognized by our county government. We trust that this push for agroecology by the county and other stakeholders will continue until the impact on the livelihoods of residents is felt, including increased produce and, most importantly, the production of healthy foods. As a mother and smallholder farmer, I am very happy.”
The Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act are expected to provide young farmers with the necessary tools and resources to implement sustainable farming practices, protect the environment, increase crop yields, and improve food security. Charles Mungai, a young farmer from Gatanga Sub-County in Murang’a, believes that the effective implementation of the Policy and Act will significantly improve the livelihoods of Murang’a farmers, promote ecological sustainability, and mitigate the effects of climate change, ultimately benefiting local communities and future generations.
Daniel Gitahi, Murang’a County’s Chief Officer for Agriculture, emphasized the importance of aligning with the Multistakeholder Platform (MSP) for agroecology actions in the county as a way forward. He stated, “The MSP is a network for agroecology actions in the county and a pool of stakeholders that will be key in driving the county’s agroecology agenda.” With the launch of the Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act, the county has set a positive example for other counties in Kenya and beyond, paving the way for agroecology to thrive as a sustainable and impactful approach to agriculture. The Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act are a significant milestone in promoting agroecology and fostering a more sustainable and regenerative agricultural system in Kenya, with far-reaching benefits for farmers, communities, and the environment.
The development of the Murang’a Agroecology Policy and Act was a collaborative endeavor, with key players including the Murang’a County Government, Institute for Culture and Ecology, and funding from Biovision Foundation, Tudor Trust, and Both Ends. The involvement of government departments, CSOs, CBOs, farmers, and the private sector was paramount to its successful passage into law. Backed by a proactive approach from the Murang’a County Government, bolstered by ICE, an ABN implementing partner, agroecology is promoted as a sustainable solution to tackle pressing food system challenges impacting the environment and human health.