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DP Gachagua off to Rome, Italy for UN food summit

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has departed or Rome, Italy, for a three-day United Nations (UN) high level Food Systems Summit. 

The DP will address the high level meeting on behalf of President William Ruto under the invitation of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

On Monday morning, he will deliver the key note address on Financing Food Systems with a special focus on Kenya’s Food Systems Transformation Initiative.

This will be part of the stocktaking of the commitment of States, governments  and other Stakeholders in allocating resources to  end hunger and malnutrition. 

The DP’s address will set the stage for the Heads of State session, to be attended by Italy’s Prime Minister Georgia Meloni and Mr Guterres, to discuss the critical issue of food security.

The Summit will also discuss, at length, the school meals programme in which States also work with other partners in ensuring pupils in public primary schools receive food and in balanced rations, to promote health  and education. 

At the plenary, which will be attended by several Heads of State and Government, as well as UN agencies including the World Food Programme, and the Food Agriculture Organisation, among others, Mr Gachagua will highlight the progress made in Kenya since 1980, when the school meals was rolled out.

Currently, the programme benefits over 1.6 million pupils across the country, especially in arid and semi arid lands.

It has been shown to increase enrollment and retention of pupils, as well as meeting nutritional needs, moreso through milk.

In this year’s budget, the Government has doubled   funds for school meals programme to USD30 million. 

Kenya’s ambassador to Italy Jackline Nyong’a says participation at the Summit is key as the country takes a raft of measures on enhancing food security in the context of vagaries of Climate Change.

“This is a high-level meeting. It is significant to Kenya to shine and also seek partnership on fostering food security,” she said. 

Among other initiatives, Mr Gachagua will also speak to measures of sustainably lowering the cost of living especially subsidising production, as opposed to consumption; the case of the subsidised fertiliser.

On Monday evening,  the Deputy President, will engage with Kenyans living in Italy, at a dinner at the Westin Hotel in Rome. He is expected to hold  talks with the Prime Minister of Italy Ms Georgia Meloni with the aim of strengthening the bilateral relations of the two  nations. 

At the meeting with  Kenyans living in Italy, the DP intends to understand their needs and the kind of support they may require from the Government. 

The Kenya Kwanza Administration is keen on supporting  Diaspora investment back home through structured frameworks.

Diaspora remittances into the country last year almost hit a half a trillion Kenya Shillings, with the country receiving Ksh185.9 billion in the first four months of 2023.

This source of money is key to the economy, as the Government strives to increase foreign exchange reserves and stabilise the local currency against other major global denominations. 

On Tuesday morning, the Deputy President will speak at a breakfast side meeting on homegrown sources of food school meals programme.

The DP will share Kenya’s experience on the impact of the school meals programme, which is supported by the World Food Programme- and how it can contribute to combating climate change through structured contracting of farmers to produce food schools. 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the convener of the COP28 in December, will host the breakfast meeting where Kenya’s participation will be prominent.

The host will seek to understand opportunities in homegrown sources for school meals programme to countering climate change.

This is in addition to Kenya’s role in leading Africa on climate action, as the country prepares for the  Africa Climate Summit in September in Nairobi.

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