NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 30 – Agriculture line ministries have been called upon to adopt reforms that will transform the country from merely a primary producer of raw materials to that of high quality finished products.
President Mwai Kibaki said on Wednesday that the transformation of the country would only be achieved with the increased use of improved farm inputs supported the efficient and reliable institutions.
“We need to increase the application of improved seeds, animal breeds, feeds and fertilizers. Equally important, we need innovative research. I expect the sector ministries in their new Agricultural Development Sector Strategy to embrace these key ingredients of agricultural reform,” said the President.
Speaking at the official opening of this year’s Nairobi’s International Trade Fair, the Head of State pointed out that Kenya’s economy is predominantly agro-based and as such needs to build on this sector which is a crucial pillar in the achievement of its Vision 2030.
The President added that his government had dispatched many agricultural extension officers across the country to disseminate important information of how farmers can improve productivity and urged farmers to heed their advice.
The government is currently implementing the recently approved National Agricultural Sector Extension Program which will see the extension service provision harmonised so that farmers can get quality information on how to enhance production..
While acknowledging the suffering caused by the severe food and water shortage that many Kenyans are grappling with, President Kibaki said various measures had been undertaken to address the situation.
Resources have been allocated to mitigate the high cost of farm inputs and ensure the availability of food to ensure that the citizens don’t suffer further.
“My Government has taken deliberate measures to expand irrigated agriculture with a view to harnessing our irrigation potential. To start with, we have allocated 2 billion Shillings to rehabilitate all our irrigation projects and bring into production an additional 35,000 acres immediately,” he said.
More resources will continue to be allocated to ensure that about one million acres of land is put under irrigation in the next five years, he assured.
On the sugar sector, he said privatization programme for the five publicly owned sugar factories was on course and will be completed within the next eight months.
“Let me reiterate that the prospects of the industry remain positive in spite of the formidable challenge of improving efficiency to compete internationally, especially once the COMESA Safeguard Measures lapse in February twenty twelve,” he said.
Also present was the Agriculture Minister William Ruto who said his ministry would provide seeds to farmers to enable them take advantage of the anticipated short rains.
This move coupled with fertile soils, the right information to farmers and technology had the potential to double the area under food production, he argued.
On the issue of climate change which has adversely affected the country, Mr Ruto said together with other ministries they were formulating a government’s position that would be presented in the UN Copenhagen climate change conference in December to persuade the developed countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
They would also be seeking to ask for funds from these countries to provide funds for mitigating the effects of the adverse weather conditions, he added.
Locally however measures such as planting of trees in all water catchment areas was going on to ensure they are restored and managed efficiently.