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Kenya to embark on Research to promote food production

Kenya is among 15 countries to benefit from USD 50 Million grant to finance food production activities in the Eastern and Central Africa region.

Countries under the umbrella Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), will be facilitated to finance bio-fortification programmes controlling aflatoxin in food and also having centres of excellence.

Speaking during the 3rd ASARECA council of patron ministers meeting, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Mithika Linturi said that the Africa can be able to undertake and intensify efforts to boost food and nutrition security through such forums.

The CS together with other Agriculture Ministers from the Member States of ASARECA.

“There is need for member states to start thinking, organizing themselves in accepting the realities of life which is  to feed the world, to feed our continent while  looking at the devastating effects of climate change as well as looking at the problems that the world faces in this era of pests and diseases”, he added.

Research, the CS noted is the key towards feeding the world and that, it is through adoption of science and technology that the region and continent can be able to feed itself

“We are in this meeting discussing amongst member states on how we can be able to build our regional capacity to continue with research which will be able to give us the different varieties of food crops that we need to grow and that will be able to give our populations the right nutrition value”, the CS said.

He noted that through research, countries will be able to come up with a variety of crops that can withstand the harsh conditions that are affecting countries especially in the areas of pests and diseases.

“We can be able to develop massive high yielding varieties that will be able to deal with the issues of diseases such as  the maize necrosis and give the population food within the shortest time possible “, he noted.

Linturi noted that Kenya is privileged to host this high-level event as it will help us to learn from experiences by the regional countries how they are tackling challenges facing the agriculture sector.

Coming together , the CS noted that all end up benefiting from the pool of great minds of researchers that work within ASARECA and with these  countries will be able to support each other in areas of their strengths..

“I am a believer that collaborative efforts if fast tracked will help in reducing the hunger the region is grappling with. Africa has the best soils in the world, ample arable land, abundant labour in terms of growing youth and favourable climatic conditions. With all those endowments and joint efforts, Africa can be self-sufficient in terms of food production,” said Linturi.

Frank Tumwebaze. Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries – UGANDA and outgoing Chairman, ASARECA Council of Patron Ministers hands over the mantle to Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi who will Chair the ASARECA board for the next two years.

The CS acknowledged that research requires money, it takes time and is expensive and thus the meeting invited donor countries to be able to support the body in the areas of research and programmes.

He appreciated the development partners and donor for their support through and through saying they invited them to the meeting in order to fit in within their the member countries  national programmes

“ We have come up with a budget of USD 50 million and are asking for support from the donors ”, Linturi, who took over Chairmanship of ASARECA for the next two years said.

ASARECA Executive Director  Dr. Enock Warinda said that major efforts will be directed towards financing programmes geared towards boosting food production as contained in the association’s five year strategy.

“We have submitted a budget proposal of USD 50 million to our donors to help us realize our goals. The donor input into programmes is over and above the respective country contribution of not less than USD100,000 (Ksh15.6 million) annually,” said Dr. Warinda.

Some of the donors expected to extend their resources include major donors, such , USAID, European Union, World Bank, DANIDA, Melinda Gates Foundations and IFAD.

The funding, Dr. Warinda explained is especially meant to address gaps in agricultural research, for example, development and adoption of new agricultural technologies and that in the next five years, through implementation of activities introduce more than 375,000 youth and women into agriculture.

CS Agriculture and livestock Development Mithika Linturi being handed over today’s communique by the ASARECA executive Director Dr. Enock Warinda after the 3rd ASARECA meeting held at Safari park Hotel.

During the one day conference agriculture ministers not only discussed policy matters but also on sharing of information on smart agriculture technologies, food surplus and endowments.

Key part of deliberations was directed on how to promote centres of excellence in each country. For instance, Uganda has a comparative advantage on cassava, Ethiopia has excelled in wheat farming, Tanzania (rice), Kenya (dairy) and Eritrea is making strides on edible oils

During the conference the chairmanship of ASARECA board was handed over to Kenya from Uganda. Kenya agriculture cabinet secretary Mithika Linturi in his acceptance speech said the region’s efforts seek to address the gaps derailing research, mainly low funding and lack of sharing of information.

ASARECA’s member states include Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

 

By Wangari Ndirangu

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