NYERI, Kenya, Sep 15 – President Mwai Kibaki says the Government has continued to increase investments in the agricultural sector in order to ensure food security, stimulate private investments and generate employment.
President Kibaki, therefore, said the Government has increased the budget allocation for the agricultural sector from barely 2 per cent of the national budget in 2002 to 8.5 percent in the current financial year.
During the same period, the President added, the Government revived key institutions in the sector and implemented a wide range of measures to improve agricultural production.
“As a result of these efforts, the sector achieved an overall growth rate of 6.3 per cent last year, which is the highest in the last four decades.”
He expressed satisfaction that farmers in the Central Kenya region have taken full advantage of the Government’s efforts to achieve tremendous growth in various sub-sectors of agriculture.
On horticulture, the Head of State noted that the region earned small scale farmers Kshs 14.5 billion compared to Sh10 billion in 2006.
To further promote horticultural production, the President said his Government will construct an additional six fresh produce markets at a cost of between Sh30 and 40 million each this financial year.
“These fresh produce markets will go a long way in meeting the need for clean environment for fresh horticultural products,” President Kibaki said.
With regard to rice farming, President Kibaki said the Government has started the construction of a water reservoir and expansion of Mwea irrigation scheme at a cost of Sh8.2 billion, noting that farmers earned Sh5.2 billion last year up from Sh3.3 billion the previous
“This investment is expected to increase the area under the crop from the current 10,000 hectares to 16,000 hectares, and benefit over 20,000 farmers,” the President said.
Noting that fish farming is another area that has the potential to improve rural incomes, create employment and enhance food security, the President said the Government has stepped up measures to promote fish farming throughout the country.
In the Central Kenya region, the Head of State said 300 fish ponds have been constructed in each of the 29 constituencies in the last two years.
To further promote fish farming, President Kibaki said the Government is funding construction of three shallow dams in every constituency in the region to avail new employment opportunities for the youth.
In addition, the President said the Government will put up a mini fish processing unit in Nyeri Town to further boost fish farming.
The Head of State, therefore, urged farmers, and especially the youth, to take up fish farming as a business and benefit from the proposed new facility.
In his remarks Cooperatives Development and Marketing Minister Joseph Nyaga lauded President Kibaki’s unwavering support to the agricultural sector and other sectors that stimulate the country’s economic growth leading to improved living standards of Kenyans.
Mr Nyaga particularly thanked the Head of State and the government for writing of debts in the coffee sector as well as in other subsectors in the agricultural industry thus significantly boosting the revival of the sectors and extending the huge benefits to many citizens in the country.
As part of government’s commitment to facilitate the agricultural sector to play its rightful role in the attainment of the envisioned 10 percent of annual growth rate, the Minister said that over 500 agricultural assistant officers had been recruited and deployed in various parts of the country to help farmers maximize benefits from farming.
Others who addressed the occasion included National ASK Chairperson Alice Kalya who thanked the government for supporting infrastructural development in the Kabiru-ini ASK ground, particularly the construction of a Presidential pavilion which President Kibaki laid the foundation stone today.
In attendance were Special Programmes Minister who is also the area MP Esther Murugi, Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi, senior government officials, Nyeri Mayor Cllr Edward Muteru, as well as various local and national leaders.