MOMBASA, Kenya, Sep 2 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has encouraged counties to promote agricultural mechanization by extending support to all farmers.
Agricultural mechanization service stations will help stabilise food production by offering subsidised services to small-scale farmers that will boost food security, President Kenyatta said.
“As we strive to achieve food and nutrition self-sufficiency, both levels of government must continue to work together,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta emphasised that technology is a critical driver in the transformation of the agricultural sector.
The Head of State was speaking when he officially opened this year’s Agricultural Society of Kenya Mombasa International Show Thursday.
He said agriculture is a devolved function, adding that county governments are indispensable partners in the national food security and agricultural productivity project.
Noting that approximately 14.6 percent of the Coast population is vulnerable to food insecurity, President Kenyatta said the food deficit presents an opportunity for stakeholders to work hard and produce a surplus.
“This region requires about 370,000 bags of maize, 110,000 bags of pulses and 7 million litres of oil every month,” President Kenyatta said.
He affirmed the government’s commitment to invest in agro-industrialisation, saying the move would create a first-line employment and investment opportunity for women as well as the youth.
To accelerate the adoption of intermediate and appropriate technologies at various points of the agro-value chain, President Kenyatta said women and youth entrepreneurship must be enhanced as the key to servicing the gap and securing its opportunities.
He emphasized that addressing the capacity and access issues constraining women and the youth in entrepreneurship and agricultural production are matters of urgency.
“These are the reasons behind the creation of the Women, Youth and Uwezo funds,” he said.
The President commended the Agricultural Society of Kenya for making the effort to drive home the point that agriculture must stop being a low-income subsistence activity and transform into a high-income employer.
“We want to see this transformation happening on every acre of Kenya’s land,” President Kenyatta said. “Every farmer and every household must do its part in full to feed the nation and receive their dues in full through agriculture.”
The President said agriculture must do its part to make Kenya a newly-industrialised, middle income country within a decade.
He reassured that his administration will continue to do its part in full to promote the competitiveness of commercially-oriented agriculture in Kenya.
“We will do this by utilizing modern and efficient agricultural technologies,” he said.
He pointed out that the government’s agricultural transformation efforts involve initiatives cutting across several sectors including manufacturing, international trade, transport, infrastructure, banking and insurance.
President Kenyatta disclosed that the government allocated Sh45.6 billion to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries this financial year as part of its efforts to ensure a nutritionally-sufficient and food-secure country.
“This money is intended to finance several initiatives aimed at improving our overall food production. This way, we hope to achieve a lower cost of living through cheaper food,” the President said.
Some of the funds will be invested in technology to expand irrigation projects and protect the agriculture sector from seasonal fluctuation and adverse weather patterns by supplementing rain-fed farming.
To encourage farmers, especially small-holders, to grow more food, the President said agricultural input subsidies will be improved and sustained.
He said the government is also investing in water harvesting to empower farmers to manage and overcome seasonal changes.
“Farming must continue throughout the year so that each season is a growing season,” he said.
The allocation will also benefit fisheries and livestock sub-sectors, which are yet to approach their full productive potential.
Other speakers included Agriculture, Livestock Development and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Agricultural Society of Kenya National Chairperson Annabel Kiriinya.