On an early morning in July 2019 I accompanied two employees of the National Irrigation Board Western Kenya to the Kisumu showground. They were both working for the research office and normally did soil analysis in nearby rice fields that this parastatal serviced, but had somehow been tasked with overseeing the setting up of the NIB’s stand at the Agricultural Show, a yearly event that draws big crowds, and is a prime source of education on farming techniques and new technologies for anyone from schoolchildren to seasoned farmers. They were not pleased to find the stand in disarray and had a terse conversation with the workers who were present, but my eye was drawn to a large and colourful mural that was painted on the side. It attempted to show how the NIB was ‘promoting innovation and technology in agriculture and trade,’ as was the overall motto of the show. Between the daintily painted pictures of scientists testing soils in their labs and airplanes transporting produce to international markets, two areas placed side by side made me pause. Right below an image of ‘food security,’ containing fertile-looking fields of maize, onions, cabbages, and sukuma wiki (kale), was ‘pest control,’ portrayed by a farmer in overalls, spraying his field with a bright yellow knapsack. Food security is currently a key topic in Kenyan politics, as it is one of the pillars of president Uhuru Kenyatta’s big four agenda, his presidential vision that he aims to realise by 2030. In policies flowing from this agenda, food security and chemical pest control are usually part of the same picture.
Miriam Waltz, "Food Security and Pest Control", contributed by Miriam Waltz, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 1 March 2020, accessed 18 May 2022. https://centerforethnography.org/content/food-security-and-pest-control