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Irrigation Schemes to lift food security-PS Torome

The government is keen on expanding irrigation schemes and reviving stalled ones across the country towards scaling up food security and enhancing value addition.

Principal Secretary for the State Department for Planning in the National Treasury and Planning, Mr. Saitoti Torome, said pastoralist counties that have experienced recurrent famine as a result of drought, would be given priority in the new and revived schemes targeting to offer improved incomes for residents.

Torome noted that due to effects of climate change, most parts of the country were experiencing unreliable rainfall and erratic weather patterns with farmers often running into huge losses when their crops failed.

Speaking at a Nakuru hotel during deliberations by experts on preparation of the Medium-Term Plan Strategy Paper (MTP) No 4, the Principal Secretary added that although the soil in most parts of Kenya is fertile, dependence on the rain-fed farming system has precluded agriculture as an alternative food source.

He added, “In MTP No 4, we are going to emphasize on expansion and intensification of agriculture through irrigation, with a focus on crop diversification, poverty alleviation, food security and improved quality of life for the rural population. This is an initiative that will impact positively on farmers who will now have sufficient water to irrigate their crops and make the most out of it in revenues,” the PS expounded.

According to the Principal Secretary, the MTP No 4 will also outline effective ways of ensuring Kenya to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and that every Kenyan is enrolled in the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

“Implementing a UHC scheme through the NHIF will require the enhancing of the NHIFs capacity to design and implement the technical requirements of an efficient insurance-based approach,” noted Torome.

He said President William Ruto’s government was committed to ensuring that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) had access to accessible and affordable credit facilities under state-backed credit guarantee schemes.

A credit guarantee scheme encourages banks to disburse credit to borrowers they would otherwise turn away, confident that they will be compensated in case of defaults.

Last year, a study by the Central Bank of Kenya showed that banks turned away 28 percent of small businesses while microfinance institutions declined 96 percent of their loan applications.
While noting that the Jubilee administration had sunk billions of shillings into infrastructure projects, a good number of which it handed over to the new government at various stages of completion, Saitoti affirmed that ongoing projects will not to be abandoned.

“The seamless transfer of responsibilities is meant to ensure that the country is not littered with white elephants, which would be the case if every new administration abandons its predecessor’s work,” he said.

He advised county administrations to work out plans of continued execution of existing projects initiated by their predecessors in order to save taxpayers from losses arising out of incomplete investments that gobble up billions without offering a tangible return.

By Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto

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