, NAIROBI, Kenya,Nov 7 – The Ministry of Agriculture has set aside Sh5 billion to conduct a survey on arable land along the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor in a bid to increase agricultural activity.
With the country turning more and more towards irrigation based agriculture, the ministry wants to tap into the resources offered along the Tana River delta to set up agricultural business enterprises.
Agriculture Permanent Secretary Dr Romano Kiome said the ministry is working on a structure to prioritise agricultural activity to achieve maximum output to the economy.
“We are thinking of enterprises such as commercial beef farming, large scale horticulture, which have the potential to do more in terms of contribution to the GDP of our country,” Kiome said.
The move seeks to put an estimated 920,000 hectares into agricultural use, as the ministry tries to restructure the sector and make it more profitable.
Kiome said the ministry will float the idea to international investors to put money into agricultural projects once their viability is established.
He added that a team would present the concept at a G20 meeting scheduled for this week.
The inventory is expected to be complete by the end of the year and the ministry will then embark on developing business plans for the sector.
The Ministry of Agriculture has set out a strategy where it is seeking to change the perception of farming to make it a more commercially viable venture. It has identified horticulture, dairy, tea and sugar as the four key sectors it intends to focus and grow.
Agriculture continues to dominate Kenya’s economy. Growth in the sector is credited with boosting economic growth in 2010 to 5.6 percent from 2.6 percent a year earlier.
However, lack of focus on specific sub sectors has meant that agriculture has not maximised its potential of contributing to the economy.
Kiome said the area has the potential to make Kenya food secure given the rich soils and availability of water from the Tana River. He said the development of the region into an agricultural zone would keep pace with the development of the transport corridor.
He was speaking ahead of an Agricultural Sector Coordination retreat in Mombasa that will bring together ten ministries that are associated with addressing agriculture and rural development.
During the retreat, ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of departments will discuss a number of bills ranging from the Consolidated Agricultural Legislation to a new Agricultural Bill.
Kiome said the consolidated Agriculture legislation has produced three Bills that are ready for submission to the Cabinet.
“The Bills propose radical changes in the regulatory and institutional framework that will result in rationalisation of State corporations and repeal some pieces of legislation,” he said.