Kenya can be food sufficient


Kenya is no different from other African nations.  In fact, we are (or were) better off when it comes to endowment with forests, lakes and rivers.

In Egypt for instance, rainfall is a scare resource.  But this has not prevented Egyptians from farming.  For decades, the people of that country have relied on irrigation from the River Nile.  It is no secret when nations that rely on the Nile broach the subject of the use of the waters, Egypt responds with vitriol.

Whereas Egypt has over the years been engaged in reviewing its irrigation methods to ensure all-year round irrigation from the Aswan dam, the Kenyan government has been busy seeking emergency funds when famine strikes for urgent grain imports.

They have become so good at it you can almost calculate how much they will be begging for even before they make their appeal to donors.

And to make matters worse, dodgy traders working in cahoots with the so-called honourable Members of Parliament turn such disasters into money-minting exploits when poor Kenyans are starving.

Israel on the other hand has a semi-arid temperate climate.  These climatic conditions have made irrigation central in the development of intensive agriculture.

Israel produces 95 percent of its own requirements which are supplemented by imports of oil, sugar, seeds, meat, coffee and grains but these are offset by a wide range of agricultural products that are exported.

In Kenya, we have made a habit of relying on grain import yet Kenya can clearly feed itself.

What plans is the Ministry of Water taking to ensure farmers across the country use irrigation to grow crops?  Why can’t we revive irrigation schemes across the country?

What incentives are being given to farmers to use irrigation for cultivation? In Egypt, farmers are not made to pay for the way they use.  But after getting the water, they distribute it on their farms using their own methods.

When will I see Kenyan politicians move away from discussing who should (and should not) go to The Hague to more intellectual debate that can help this country develop?

We know the previous regime was good at distributing famine relief during elections to secure votes.  But that is in the past.  Kenyans made it clear they wanted proper leadership when they rejected Daniel arap Moi’s attempt to continue Kanu’s rule in 2002.

But those we put in power seven years ago continue to disappoint.  I know the current regime will leave a legacy in road construction.  But that credit cannot be taken by the Ministries of Water, Planning, Energy or Special Programmes.

Those ministries must show us what they have done over the past five years to alleviate recurrent food, water and electricity shortage.  There’s a census coming up and the most critical thing the government wants to know is my tribe.  Surely?

At the rate at which we are going, some tribes will have no people left to count unless urgent steps are taken to irrigate our farms, resort to alternative energy sources and plan for the future like the Egyptians and Israelis.

Do I sound irritated?  It’s because I am.

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