Kenya on the spot over agricultural reforms

May 17, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – Kenya on Monday came under heavy criticism from development partners over key reforms that it has reportedly failed to implement in the Agriculture Ministry.

At a consultative meeting between the government and representatives of about 18 development partners, the poor performance of the plum Agriculture Ministry raised concern especially since donors continued providing monetary and technical support to it.

Key among the issues of distress were fraud and reforms taken so far in the maize sub sector where the government has failed to release findings of the maize probe report three months after the deadline.

“In view of reported corruption in the maize, fertilizer, seed, beef and milk sub-sectors we would like to know what the government especially the respective ministries are doing to prevent corruption from taking place in the future. We would also like to know when the report on the investigation regarding maize is going to be made public,” said Head of Swedish Development Cooperation- Kenya, Annika Nordin.

Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgei admitted that there had been mismanagement and fraud at the various agriculture parastatals, and that investigations were already underway.

She added that there was room for more coordination between the various agricultural line ministries. 

“We have a lot to do, discuss and agree on to design a way forward. The code of conduct that we came up with has led us to formulate the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and I think the operational word is strategy,” she said.

The development partners further pointed out that Kenya had lost an estimated Sh23.4 billion in subsidies and taxes foregone during 2008/09 due to failure to reform the maize sub sector. They said that although the restructuring of the Kenya Meat Commission was a government intervention, the plant still operated below capacity.

“We are concerned that not much progress has been made since the Maputo Declaration in 2003 to increase budgetary allocation to the sector to at least 10 percent by 2008. We also note that the sector has only been able to spend 69 percent of the development estimates,” said Ms Nordin.

The envoys also highlighted food insecurity as an area that needed address. They asked the government to establish how far the Food Security and Nutrition policy approval plans had gone.

“In 2008/09, ten million people suffered from chronic food deficit. Between two to four million people require emergency food assistance annually and nearly 30 percent of Kenya’s children are malnourished. This time instead of seeing animal carcasses in our TVs, we are seeing increased milk supplies. From crisis of deficit to crisis of surplus,” pointed out the Swedish representative.

The consultative meeting between Kenya and her development partners is set to draft the best way forward for the agricultural sector. Last year in April a similar meeting was held where the two parties signed the Code of Conduct for the agricultural and rural development sector support. The two parties committed themselves to general principles of engagement.

In this year’s meeting Kenya was represented by Cooperative Development Minister Joseph Nyaga, Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa, Livestock development Minister Mohammed Kuti, Lands Minister James Orengo, Northern Kenya development Minister Mohammed Elmi.

Some of the delegates were Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Shigeo Iwatani, US Charge d’Affairs Lee Brudvig, Finland Deputy Head of Mission Theresa Zitting, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya Counselor for UNEP Dirk Bruinsma, USAID director for agriculture, business and environment office Allen Fleming among others.


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