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Sh3.4 billion to educate farmers

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has given a Sh3.4 billion grant as part of the Sh6.6 billion required to fund the second phase of the National Agriculture and Livestock Extension Program (NALEP).

“An average of Sh700 million will be disbursed by SIDA annually for the next five years,” said Agriculture Minister William Ruto of the grant on Tuesday.

NALEP phase II covers all the 148 districts in the country, compared to the first phase which only tackled the 43 high rainfall districts in Western, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Central and Eastern provinces. The program is aimed at using the contribution of agriculture and livestock to social and economic development through increased food security, higher incomes and poverty alleviation.

Sweden’s ambassador to Kenya, Anne Brandt said: “Sweden understands the importance of farmers and pastoralist communities to be able to sustain their way of living,” and added that SIDA will be supporting Kenya in livestock improvement (artificial insemination services).

Mr Ruto illustrated: “The first phase ended in 2006 and now the second phase will focus on community development to establish the district action plan, where development will focus on the communities in question (148 districts)”.

Increased extension of services to farmers and agro-pastoralists will be to link communities to development agencies that facilitate the implementation of projects contained in the Community Action Plans (CAPs).

“CAPs include management of funds to build community health centres, administration police camps (security), electricity supply, water pans, rural access roads, cattle dips, etc,” according to a statement from the Agriculture Ministry.

Once phase II of NALEP is complete, micro-finance institutions for savings and credit services will be running, and no less than two reliable motor vehicles and motorcycles will be available for use in providing extension services in Kwale, Taita, Bureti, Transmara, Makueni and Kisumu among others.

“Target is 1.7 million farmers by 2011. The government has created over 500 distributional action plans and 25,000 stakeholder interest groups for the purpose of professionalism and commercialisation.”

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Mr Ruto agrees that the latest agricultural technology, mobilisation of communities and the national extension programme are in line with Vision 2030.

Ambassador Brandt said she hopes the funds will assist the community mobilisation process and training programs for courses in livestock and farming, together with the Ministry of Agriculture.

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