Food Banking Kenya’s 5 Takeaways from the Africa Food Systems Forum
September 21, 2023
Written by John Gathungu, chief executive officer of Food Banking Kenya
Recently, I attended this year’s Africa Food Systems Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with colleagues from The Global FoodBanking Network. The event brings together a diverse group of people and organizations — policymakers, experts, and representatives from different areas of the food industry — who are committed to building better food systems on the continent.
John Gathungu, chief executive officer of Food Banking Kenya, delivers remarks at GFN's Food Bank Leadership Institute. (Photo: Ken Jones Photography)
Since my organization, Food Banking Kenya, plays a critical role in addressing food security and reducing food waste in our country, it was important for us to attend this forum. It provided me with an opportunity to connect and share ideas and experiences with key stakeholders from around the region. We learned from our colleagues, participated in discussions that might shape future policies, and built partnerships for greater impact.
Additionally, attending this forum helped me to identify emerging issues and trends related to climate-resilient food systems in Africa, which we will integrate into our strategies and operations to improve effectiveness and impact.
Specifically, the forum provided ideas for food banking initiatives and partnerships that we can explore to improve our impact in the Kenyan food system. For example, we continue to explore collaborations with small-scale farmers towards regenerative agriculture, food manufacturers, and retailers to ensure that surplus food is redirected to those in need rather than going to waste. We also learned about advancements in agricultural technology and innovative approaches for food preservation and storage that we can incorporate into our operations to improve efficiency and reduce food waste.
From left to right: John Gathungu, executive director of Food Banking Kenya; Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, executive-in-residence at Schmidt Futures; Moses Nyoro, director of operations and logistics at Food Banking Kenya; Gabriela Kafarhire, Middle East & Africa programs associate director at The Global FoodBanking Network, attend the 2023 Africa Food Systems Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The theme of this year’s forum was “Recover, Regenerate, and Act,” and in the spirit of acting for food systems transformation, I would like to share some action items we developed through our attendance. These ideas will help us develop new initiatives, strategies, and partnerships while enhancing existing programs and continuing to improve our operations, and increasing our impact on the Kenyan food system:
Developing partnerships with other stakeholders in the food system across Africa to share knowledge, resources, expertise, and best practices for reducing food waste and improving food security.
Exploring innovative approaches and technological solutions to improve food preservation, storage, and distribution, such as implementing cold chain systems or using mobile applications to connect surplus food with those in need.
Advocating for policies that support sustainable agriculture, promote food safety and nutrition, and reduce food waste, such as working with government agencies to develop food recovery programs.
Building awareness among consumers, businesses, and policymakers about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of food waste and the importance of reducing food waste in the food system.
Identifying and engaging with potential donors, volunteers, and sponsors to support our mission and increase our impact in addressing food insecurity and reducing food waste.
The Africa Food Systems Forum was a key opportunity to learn about the challenges facing food systems across Africa and potential solutions to these challenges, which will take a coordinated effort from all of us. At Food Banking Kenya, we look forward to working with the new colleagues we met at the forum to accelerate food systems transformation through better policies, practices, and investments.