NAIROBI, August 23 – The African Development Bank (ADB) has committed Sh2.2 billion towards revitalizing Kenya’s horticultural sector, Agriculture Minister William Ruto has disclosed.
The bulk of the fund will be spent in the improvement of nine irrigation schemes in nine marginal districts, mainly dealing with the production of horticultural crops.
Ruto said poor infrastructure and marketing structures, poverty and unreliable rainfall have hampered the growth of the agricultural sector in the arid and semi arid (ASAL) areas, promising that the government will assist farmers to realise their full potential.
He spoke on Friday when he launched the ADB-funded small-scale Horticulture Development Project at Ngurumani scheme in Magadi division, Kajiado district.
Instead of farmers relying on their traditional furrow irrigation to practice horticulture, and grow maize, bananas and mangoes, Ruto said, part of the money will be used to pipe 800 hectares, so to minimize wastage, and enable them maximise the benefit from such farms.
The minister further disclosed that the fund would be used to improve the 48kms Magadi -Ngurumani road, to enable farmers transport their produce with ease.
On marketing, he directed the project’s management to assist farmers in identifying better markets, instead of relying on unscrupulous middlemen.
Responding to complaints on human-wildlife conflict, Ruto challenged them to urgently identify conservancy boundaries so that the government fenced off the wildlife.
Minister Ruto, who was accompanied by Kajiado D.C Rashid Mohammed, and Agriculture Secretary, Dr. Wilson Songa, said the government would increase funding of AFC, to enable more farmers access affordable credit.
He, however, asked those without land titles to form farmers’ groups to enable them access credit without producing collateral security.
“The government has amended the regulations which provided for collateral security before a farmer acquired agricultural loans,’’ he announced.