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Government to improve food and nutrition security, Rotich says

Government  is  reforming  its  agricultural policies and regulations as well as subsidies to farmers  with a view to make  them efficient and less prone to rent seeking.

This  will  be in order to enhance food and nutrition security and also support farmers,

Presenting  on  Thursday  to  the country the highlights of the Budget for financial year 2019/20, the Treasury Cabinet  Secretary (CS), Henry  Rotich  said he has set aside Ksh. 2 billion for the National Value Chain Support Programme and Ksh. 3 billion for setting up the Coffee Cherry Revolving Fund to implement prioritized reforms in the coffee sub-sector.

“In the coming financial year, coffee farmers across the country will be able to access the Cherry advance at a modest interest rate of 3 percent”, he said.

The  CS  noted that government also supported sugar farmers by paying Ksh. 2.1 billion debt for cane deliveries to public mills and to cater for the outstanding  balance, they have provided for Ksh. 700 million .

The  President  appointed a Task Force in November 2018 to review the sugar industry with a view to addressing the challenges in the sector, and the CS  said that the Government will thus implement the recommendations from the Task Force, and in the meantime, pay all outstanding debts owned by sugarcane farmers.

Other  provisions that the government has taken care of in the Agriculture include Ksh. 1. billion for crop diversification and to revitalize the Miraa industry, Ksh. 800 million for the rehabilitation of Fish Landing Sites and Ksh. 700 million for small-holder dairy commercialization.

“ I  have also allocated a total of Ksh 7.9 billion for ongoing irrigation projects and set aside Ksh 2.3 billion for the Kenya  Hunger Safety Net Programme ”, the CS said.

Rotich  has  however  assured  that  with  the  unspent  funds  for this  current  financial  year  and  proceeds  from sale  of  maize  from  strategic  reserve, the  Strategic Food Reserve Trust  Fund   will   have  adequate  funds  to buy  food reserves  and intervene to support farmers in accessing inputs in a reformed arrangement  in the coming financial  year.

In  overall CS Rotich said that they project growth in 2019 to remain strong at around the same level as in 2018.

While there  are  risks associated  with delayed long rains which may impact negatively on agriculture, Rotich confirmed  that such risks will be offset by continued strong performance in non-agricultural activities such as tourism and construction.

“Over the medium term, we expect growth of over 7.0 percent as programmed activities under the Big Four agenda gain traction”, the CS  said.

According  to Rotich Government spending priorities in the coming financial year will total spending amount to Ksh. 2.8 trillion and the ‘Big Four plan” drivers and their enabling sectors have been allocated approximately Ksh. 450.9 billion.

The  President, during  the 2019 State  of  the Nation Address, set  out  an ambitious social-economic development agenda  captured  under the Big Four Agenda  which lays  out  key initiatives  that  will put Kenya on a bold  new  path of  rapid  and  shared  economic growth, jobs creation at an unprecedented pace and reduced poverty  on a sustained basis.

Basically  in the food and nutrition security government has committed Ksh 18.2 in the next financial year.

By  Wangari  Ndirangu

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