NAIROBI September 29 – The Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) has decried the increased fuel prices saying it has hit hard on local farmers and compromised agricultural production in the country.,
ASK national chairman, Justice Stewart Madzayo told Capital News on Sunday that should the high prices persist, the problem of food security would continue to haunt Kenyans for a longer time.
“When the fuel prices go up, it trickles down to the economy which is affected in terms of resource, manpower and even agricultural production, because if we have to get farmers and their tractors on the farms, they have to consume fuel, which is not enough,” said Justice Madzayo.
The ASK chairman called on all players to work together to ensure that development is made practicable through the provision of favourable conditions.
Push for agri-business
On the other hand, Justice Madzayo urged farmers to embrace agribusiness as a source of income, to ensure faster economic growth of the country. He argued that agribusiness presented farmers with a good opportunity to tap the best returns from their farms, which would in turn improve their individual lives. He noted that Kenya had greater chances of agribusiness considering the diversity present in the agricultural sector.
“Based on our interpretation of empowering people through growth in agribusiness, we are not going to stop at agriculture alone but we will tell Kenyan farmers to diversify farming,” he said.
The industrial judge however said these could only be achieved ‘if the government moves to improve the infrastructural capacity’ which has been blamed for the relatively stunted economic growth.
Post-election violence losses
Meanwhile, Justice Madzayo announced that the society lost over Sh70 million because of hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the beginning of the year, which left many of the society’s structures destroyed and interfered with preparations for exhibitions.
“The Eldoret showground, for example, has never held a show to date, which has cost us a loss of over Sh20 million,” the chairman said.
He revealed that the society was engaged in negotiations with the government to redeem losses through compensation, and to which so far, the government has reimbursed Sh5 million.
Similarly, he appealed for immediate government intervention in developing the country’s resource and infrastructural capacity to ensure ‘tangible returns are realised from agriculture’.
City trade fair kick-off
Justice Madzayo made the remarks ahead of the Nairobi International Trade Fair which was scheduled to kick-off on Monday through to October 5.
Nairobi ASK Branch Chairman, John Nthuku confirmed to Capital News that this year’s exhibition had attracted 320 local and over 100 foreign exhibitors, drawn from Israel, Portugal, Nigeria, Malaysia and Poland.
Mr Nthuku said the number was higher than last year’s 300 exhibitors. This year’s theme would focus on agribusiness.