Here Are The 2019 Top 5 Moments That Shaped The World Of Organic In Kenya
Well, we just thanked 2019 for the great memories and lessons that it gave on to our lives and gladly welcome 2020 with great hope and faith that it will topple the good things that 2019 had offered us. There is NO doubt that 2019 was a great year for organic in Kenya and that’s why in this writing I will try to share my top 5 moments of 2019 that shaped the world of organic in Kenya.
1. The Organic Wellness Festival
Late in April 2019 saw several organizations in the organic and wellness sector come together to help raise awareness on why organic is truly the path to wellness. The event which brought together organizations such as Think Organic Kenya, Bridges Organic, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Organic Consumers Alliance (OCA), and ABI Organic among others hosted the hundreds of Kenyans at the Sir Yusuf Ali sports club which is opposite Utalii collage off Thika Road, Nairobi
With great feedback from the attendee’s to make the event an annual event, the general feeling was that it was a success in communicating its intentions!
The festival saw a day of family fun, entertainment, Organic exhibitions, Farmers market, Health assessments, cooking demo’s among other activities that the participants enjoyed. While the great learning and demonstrations of how living an organic lifestyle were all in gear, the entertainment said of things was even better. Those in attendance saw great performances from the greats of the Kenyan music scene which included Wyre (the love child), Gilad (Mfalme wa mapenzi), The Master Performer Ammi The Veggie Man and the ever entertaining Gravitti Band!
After four months in to the year and when people were on their cheerful mood of Easter, The organic sector managed to put across a very powerful message to those in attendance, their families and across social media platforms of why organic is key to wellness as well as how living an organic lifestyle is entertaining. With great feedback from the attendee’s to make the event an annual event, the general feeling was that it was a success in communicating its intentions!
2. The First Agro ecology Conference
Perhaps the biggest event across the African continent in the organic and agro ecology space, the conference did truly live and exceed its expectations. The conference attracted the biggest names in the organic and agro ecology space which include Proff. Gilles-Eric Seralini, The French professor of molecular biology at the university of Caen since 1991 and who’s research on GMO’s led to Kenya banning GMO’s!
While the conference focused on how we can scale up Organic & Agro ecology, we also got a clear understanding on how GMO’s Have NO Place in the agriculture sector
Also in attendance was Dr. Judy Carman, one of the world expert in assessing GMO’s and has conducted research in the topic for over a decade, Mrs. Louise Luttikholt who is the executive Director for IFOAM International, Dr. Andre Lue who is an author and international director for regeneration international, Proff. Hans Harren who is a receiver of world food prize and president of millennium institute & Biovision, Proff Tyrone Hayes, proff Don Huber of Purdue University just to name a few.
The conference which took place in June at the safari park hotel and casino did NOT only attract the world’s thought leaders and scientists but also brought together farmers, traders, journalists, Students among others which led to very interactive sessions at the conference. While the conference focused on how we can scale up Organic & Agro ecology, we also got a clear understanding on how GMO’s Have NO Place in the agriculture sector and especially at the African continent especially lectures from Proff. Don Huber & Dr. Judy Carman
The conference also saw Biovision Africa Trust celebrate its 10 Year birthday, where they helped sponsor a full course organic dinner setting history of arguably being the first dinner that has ever been hosted at a 5 star hotel serving over 500 in the African continent. It goes without saying that the conference did indeed break a lot of boundaries and well as helping the African continent set a clear path for organic and agro ecology systems of farming while moving away from conventional and GMO systems that have proven to be a disaster so far giving a boost the Kenyan organic sector it needed as we continue to push for an organic policy.
3. The Kenya Organic Food Festival & Exhibition
2019 saw the festival celebrate its second birthday following its official launch in the previous year. The festival which has NOW been recognized in the official trade Kenyan calendar did indeed go a notch higher in 2019 providing a full 2 day for individuals and businesses in the organic sector to truly celebrate organic. The event is purposely celebrated on the 22nd of September as this is the official international day of celebrating organic.
The Festival was held at the iconic Wangari Maathai Institute of peace and Environmental Studies, Upper kabete. In attendance among others was Mr. Eustus Kiarii, CEO Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Dr. Peter Mokaya, CEO Organic Consumers Alliance (OCA), Proff Raphael Wahome of the University of Nairobi, Representatives from the ministry of Agriculture among others.
The festival also celebrated the work of the great wangari maathai and her work towards preserving our environment
With the aim of the event being to celebrate organic and showcase its potential, it went without saying that its mission was achieved. The festival saw experts and practitioners discuss various topics in the organic sector to family fun and great entertainment from Dandora Hip Hop Group among others.
The festival did attract hundreds of Kenyans with the desire to know more about organic, which saw them interact directly with organic farmers and vendors. The festival also celebrated the work of the great wangari maathai and her work towards preserving our environment. Being an annual event, 22nd of September 2020 should definatly be marked on your calendar for this Festival.
4. Opening of the 2nd Bridges Organic Restaurant Branch
Bridges organic restaurant is one of the pioneers of organic living in the country and its goes without saying that opening a second branch is definatly a big deal. And in the September 2019, they did officially open their second outlet at Kaunda Street at jubilee building. A move that did indeed give the organic sector in the country a huge win.
The outlet which is well located at the central business district, Ensures easy access for anyone in Nairobi, Town and wants a taste of organic. While we need more outlets, this move does go a long way to prove that the organic sector is indeed growing and sustainable as well as showing that there is a demand for organic products. With favorable prices and great taste at stake, Failure to pass by is huge disappointment. So next time you are in town, Be sure to pass by!
5. Opening Of a Seed Bank by Seed Savers Network!
Seed is life and without seed, Organic farming is in jeopardy! Well I think we can all agree with that as we can also agree that access to seed by organic farmers and small scale farmers is a huge issue especially in a time where we have seen Multinational seed companies setting their here and starting to influence the government’s seed policy which is making it hard for farmers to be able to exchange their own seeds in a country where about 80% of seed used by small scale farmers are farmer to farmer managed seed system.
about 80% of seed used by small scale farmers are farmer to farmer managed seed system.
Despite this, the government continues to ignore this very farmers instead of helping them in the face of rapidly worsening climate change where small holder farmers need seeds that are resilient to the changing and unpredictable weather conditions where farmers and their locally adapted seeds are superior. Hence in early December, the seeds savers network led by Charles wanjama saw the launch of their seed bank that will allow farmers to save and exchange their seeds freely.
This seed bank does play a critical role in blocking the co-operate greed and takeover as well as ensuring that farmers become the custodians of their seeds and allowing them to share freely. During this event also saw the launch of a publication titled ‘Ten Rich, Undernourished Crops’ a publication documenting the various varieties of crops grown by small scale farmers in Nakuru county. The initiative of the seed bank was probably my top moment of 2019 which will have a significant impact for years to come.
Other Honorable Mentions
i) Launch Of Think Organic Kenya — 2019 also saw the launch of Kenya’s first fully online organic platform with a mission of ensuring that there is easy access to organic products as well as ensuring that they are affordable and available conveniently. Be sure to visit Think Organic Kenya to indulge in an organic shopping!
ii) The International food safety conference — The conference took place early in May at Kenyatta University and indeed did attract great dignitaries including permanent secretaries for both agriculture and Health. This saw conversations that promoted organic food consumption as a path to food safety
iii) The Toxic Business Initiative By Route To Food — The initiative saw the conversation on the kind of toxic chemical’s used on our agricultural system by our farmers come into question. This revealed that At least 32% of pesticide active ingredients that are currently registered and being sold in products in Kenya, have been withdrawn from the European market, due to their serious potential impact on human and environmental health. This saw a petition presented in parliament to withdraw this pesticides.
iv) Opening of Sylvia’s Basket — Yet another outlet for one to get organic products around Nairobi was officially opened providing another alternative for customers and organic lovers to have access to organic products. Located at Soko Safi mall along Ngong road, passing there to grab fresh organic produce is highly recommended.
While I doubt I might have left some important events in the country, this to me were some of the top ones that indeed did move a needle on conversations in the organic sector and pushed the organic agenda higher the ladder. As we look forward to 2020, I can’t wait for us to build upon this momentum and have even greater wins in 2020
The Organic Guy