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