Persistent political bickering among leaders slow down agricultural development in Kenya.
The Chairman Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), Franklin Bett said the mudslinging by politicians against each other did not augur well for farming activities which requires inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and modern farming equipment.
“The trend of political stone throwing being witnessed between our leaders poses a great threat to the county’s economy and should be stopped forthwith to enable us focus our attention on more crucial sectors such as agriculture, the bedrock of our economy,” said Bett.
Speaking in Kisumu on Tuesday morning during the launch of AFC- Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Activity blended finance programme, Bett urged the leaders to go back to the drawing board so as to find where the rain started beating us as a country.
He challenged Kenyan leaders to emulate retired President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure when development programmes moved on effectively yet he commented rarely on matters development as he had given his officers the free hand to perform.
Bett decried the fact that political ‘stone throwing’ culminated in development partners relocating to more peaceful countries where their programmes were highly valued and so enjoyed the conducive atmosphere to carry on their businesses.
The AFC Chairman observed that even the push for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) could not succeed under circumstances where food security was put on the back banner and the Big 4 Agenda was not prioritized and thus frustrated the President’s dream to leave a legacy.
Bett called for close monitoring and assessment of farmers who have benefited from AFC funding. “Ensure that the farmers have business plans without which they will not be able to effectively manage their farming activities” he added.
He advised the corporation workers to closely monitor and follow up on the farmers’ progress so as to guard against past incidences where they diverted such funds to deal in mitumba clothes in the hope of making quick money thus killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
In earlier remarks, Bett disclosed that agricultural enterprises in Nyanza and Western are set to benefit from MoU signed between AFC and Kenya Crops and Dairy Markets System (KCDMS).
He explained that the MoU was aimed at facilitating access to agricultural finance in the counties of mutual interest to Agricultural and agriculture micro, small, medium (MSMEs) and large enterprises for a period of three years.
Bett disclosed that the five year programme being funded by USAID as part of Feed the Future initiative and help reduce poverty is being implemented in 12 counties namely Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Kisumu, Siaya, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, Kitui, Makueni and Taita Taveta.
The KCDMS Chief of Party, Tom Carr said the programme has a grant component where successful applicants will be required to work with, sell to, or buy from the population located within the 12 counties, thereby contributing towards the significant impact on local livelihoods.
The AFC Managing Director (MD), Lucas Meso noted that the programme was part of the corporation’s commitment to support the government’s Big 4 Agenda of food and nutritional security in Kenya stating that Nyanza and Western regions have enormous potential.
Meso said the programme will help activate the region by enabling farmers to expand their businesses and transform their economic status.
By Joseph Ouma