NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 26 – Kenya has launched a food and agriculture statistical database as part of ongoing projects by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Dubbed CountrySTAT, the database aims at helping the country to effectively operate and maintain agricultural information systems. Agriculture Permanent Secretary Romano Kiome said the new system would help officials to plan agricultural development in Kenya.
“This information is mainly targeted to policy makers and planners in the agricultural sector. It will help us make informed decisions,” Dr Kiome said, explaining that the government would be able to closely monitor availability of food, areas with the most produce as well as incorporate the price of commodities across Kenya.
FAO Country Representative Dr Catro Camarada urged government officers to apply the information in decision making in order to further improve the food production situation in the country.
CountrySTAT is a statistical framework and applied information system for analysis and policy-making designed in order to organise, integrate and disseminate statistical data and metadata on food and agriculture coming from different sources.
The project is being implemented in 17 African countries through a $5.6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Kenya is the first English speaking country to implement the system and third in Africa after Mali and Burkina Faso.
Through the core database, policy makers and researchers can group data across thematic areas such as production, trade and consumption in order to study relationships and processes.
The PS expressed confidence that such initiatives could lead to high food yields, noting that the government had been making bold steps towards increasing budgetary allocation to agriculture.
"In 2003 we had just under Sh9 billion allocated to Agriculture, this financial year the government allocated Sh29 billion,” he said adding they were expecting a further Sh2.9 billion through the stimulus spending set aside by Treasury.
At the same time, Dr Kiome revealed that Kenya is set to host this year’s edition of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) Forum between November 30 and December 4.
The conference aims to bring delegates from 30 African countries, offering a platform to discuss progress in the agricultural sector and help in policy development that could better improve the sector.
He said the conference would pay specific attention to making agriculture a profitable venture for more people in Africa.
He added that with close to three million Kenyans living below the poverty line, sharing best practices from other African countries would help the government in developing programs that make agriculture a viable economic activity for the poor in society.