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Government pledges to empower farmers for food self-sufficiency

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has called for an increase in the budgetary allocation for Agriculture to fund prioritization of initiatives aimed at empowering farmers to bolster domestic food production.

Speaking at the Annual Joint National-County World Bank Agriculture performance review at Pride Inn Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Linturi noted that the Country has been heavily reliant on food imports with an estimated expenditure of Sh620 b earmarked annually for importing food.

Linturi said that the call for increased budgetary provisions underscores the government’s commitment to fostering self-sufficiency in food production and reducing dependency on imports, thereby fortifying the nation’s food security and economic resilience.

The CS outlined to the forum that through the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategies (ASTGS) 2019-2020, Kilimo Kenya plans to improve the sector by increasing the incomes of small-scale farmers and pastoralists, agricultural output and value-added products, household food resilience, and embracing data and digitization agenda.

“World Bank has put in 450 million US Dollars which has funded Agricultural Projects that have been 100 percent implemented across the 46 Counties,” Linturi said.

He noted that the ongoing projects have positively impacted the lives of one million farmers directly.

Notably, he added that The World Bank has committed an additional 450 million US Dollars to support upcoming projects geared towards meeting the Country’s food and nutritional security requirements.

He made a resolute pledge to expand the impact of ongoing agricultural projects by reaching beyond five million farmers in the next phase.

“Our next phase is now to get to the involvement of beyond 5 million farmers through the projects and we appreciate that now Kenya has a farmers’ data of around 6.4 million then it will be very easy for us to organize ourselves and properly use the data that we have so that the greater objective that we have as a Ministry with the support of the World Bank, can be achieved,” he noted.

Linturi said that the Country’s maize production has experienced a remarkable surge, doubling from 32 million bags to 61 million bags in just one year, a significant increase that holds the pledge of substantially reducing the expenditure on food imports.

The CS said that the three-day conference with the theme, ‘Nurturing Sustainable Agricultural Growth for Food Security and Wealth Creation’ is timely as the government is working to develop the Agricultural Sector to meet the Country’s development goals.

Principal Secretary of Crops Development, Paul Ronoh pointed out that fertilizer collection points are distant from the farmers hence making it costly & difficult for farmers to transport the fertilizers back to their farms.

“Fertilizers are very far away from collection points hence I humbly request the County government to give us stalls closer to the farms so that we can support the farmers in collecting these fertilizers from the nearest points & therefore the cost of these fertilizers will be seen to have subsidized production well,” Ronoh said.

Council of Governors Chair of Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives who is also the Governor of Bungoma County, Kenneth Lusaka emphasized the significant impact of the collaborative efforts between the Ministry and the World Bank on the sector and the Nation as a whole.

The forum is said to present a valuable platform for stakeholders to assess the performance of all 46 Counties, exchange insights, and engage in constructive dialogue regarding the successes and challenges.

By Fatma Said and Nuru Soud 

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