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Kenya VP courts the Chinese

BEIJING, Aug 11 – Vice president Kalonzo Musyoka on Wednesday held various meetings with top Chinese leaders urged them to invest in the modernisation of the agricultural sector in Kenya.

Mr Musyoka who paid a courtesy call on the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing before attending the China-Africa agricultural forum, said there was need for Chinese firms to invest in farm machinery manufacturing plants in Kenya that would serve some 120 million people in the East African Common Market.

He also called for technology transfer in irrigated farming, seed technology, and mechanisation of agricultural production as well as agro-processing for value addition.

Mr Xi said his country places a high priority in its economic cooperation with Africa and that Kenya was a critical partner in the East Africa region.

Mr Musyoka briefed his counterpart on the decision by Kenyans to pass a new Constitution during the just concluded referendum adding that Kenya now required the goodwill of her development partners including China’s, to roll out the reforms that go hand in hand with the implementation of the new Constitution.

Speaking at the China-Africa Agricultural Forum which brought together leaders from Zimbabwe, Sudan, Angola, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo among others with ministries of agriculture, foreign affairs and commerce of China, the Vice President said: “Kenya wants to draw lessons from China which has limited arable land yet is able to feed her 1.3 billion inhabitants.”

He said that was why Kenya, as part of its Vision 2030 program is shifting from rain-fed agriculture to irrigated agriculture. “There is absolutely a strong case for constructing dams and investing in water harvesting techniques to be able to have sufficient water resources to produce enough food for Kenyans and attain surplus for export,” he said.

The Vice President called on Chinese companies to import cut flowers from Kenya as well as other horticultural products for which Kenya is known, in order to correct the trade imbalance that is currently hugely in favour of China.

Mr Musyoka asked more Chinese people to visit Kenya as tourists, saying the current figure of 20,000 a year was too small considering the large population of China. “The economic prosperity of China in the last 20 years means far more Chinese can today afford to travel anywhere in the world as tourists. We urge you to make magical Kenya your preferred destination.”

Mr Wang Jiarui the Minister for International Department, Central Committee of the Communist Party of China said his country was following up on the implementation of the resolutions arising out of the fourth ministerial conference on forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt last year where China committed 10 billion dollars to help in the development of agriculture, infrastructure, energy and human resource capacity in Africa.

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The Vice President’s visit to China is a follow up of one by President Mwai Kibaki in May this year where he sought Chinese help in the construction of a second port in Lamu, standard gauge railway line connecting Lamu, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia as well as mass transport,  light rail system for Nairobi city.

Mr Musyoka also sent a message of condolence from the people of Kenya to the people of China following devastating floods that have hit several provinces leading to several hundred deaths and infrastructural damage exceeding 210 billion Chinese Yuan.

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