Pathways to addressing food and nutrition security in Kenya and Tanzania

In September Netherlands alumni association from Kenya (NAAK) and Netherlands alumni association of Tanzania (NAAT) organized the Mashariki Summit. The event brought professionals from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa virtually together to discuss and address food and nutrition security in Kenya and Tanzania in COVID times.

The event took three days. The first day was dedicated to Kenya, the the second day focused on Tanzania and on the third day, the discussion was based on career mentorship, match-making, and concluding the findings from the two countries to together agree on a way forward. The main conclusion after three days was: there is value in regional collaboration. Joint solutions are the only way to solve current and future challenges. Themes like Food systems and Food Security are trans-boundary issues, for example the same questions were discussed by global leaders at the UN Food Systems Summit which took place in the same period.

Discussions on food security in Tanzania

NAAT leadership with Ambassador Wiebe de Boer

H.E Wiebe de Boer commended the NAAT for bringing together important stakeholders to discuss and understand the focus of Tanzania today and how Tanzania can tackle hunger in the country, which has been worsened by the impact of Covid-19. The Ambassador also recalled the need to strengthen partnerships and collaborate when addressing food systems challenges. The Netherlands is the second largest food exporter only after the US and has been able to achieve efficiency in agriculture through strong collaboration between government, private sector, knowledge institutes and NGOs.  Members of NAAT were encouraged to bring practical solutions to the agriculture sector. Also, diversification of  food  systems instead of focusing only on staple crops such as maize is important to build resilient food systems.

Lessons Learnt from the Impact of COVID-19 to agriculture

Career Mentorship session

On the third day, there was a career mentorship session for alumni that included talks and speed mentorship sessions with various experts in agriculture development.  The session attracted speakers from universities and the Ministry of Agriculture, discussing youth employment and its challenges. Formal jobs cannot absorb all youth who are graduated in Tanzania. There is therefore a need to create a good environment for self-employment in the agriculture sector. Innovations and ICT solutions, as well as using a demand driven curriculum in school that includes training in practical skills is important to prepare youth for self-employment.

Way forward

The Mashariki Summit 2021 was a runaway success. The summit achieved its objective of raising awareness and elevating the global discussion about food production, food waste and how reforming our food systems can help end hunger by 2030.

Moving forward, NAAK and NAAT have pledged to work together in the coming years to transform the way East Africa produces, consumes, and thinks about food.

NAAT also has launched a website which can also be accessed via a mobile app  The app is a platform for members to meet, register and exchange information among members related to agricultural and livestock information. In 2022, Nuffic Neso aims to stimulate Alumni association, organizing Alumni Days and an Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) Partner Day in Arusha and Dar es Salaam in April 2022. Stay tuned!

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