, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – President Mwai Kibaki officially launched the Kenya Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) and witnessed the signing of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme [CAADP] on Saturday.
Following the signing of CAADP, Kenya can now access major funding from the World Bank for Agricultural development in the country.
Speaking during the launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, President Kibaki said the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy 2012 will guide further development of the country’s agricultural sector in line with the comprehensive African Agricultural Development programme.
“The strategy’s overall objective is to achieve an agricultural growth of 7 per cent per year over the next 5 years. It aims at positioning the agricultural sector strategically as a key driver for sustained economic growth,” President Kibaki said.
The President noted that new programme, which recognised private sector participation as key to sustainable growth in agriculture, aims at positioning the sector strategically as a key driver for sustained economic growth.
The head of state said the Government will endeavour to create an environment that will enable the private sector to take over many of the commercial enterprises that are currently with the Government.
“Our aim is to transform Kenya’s agricultural sector into a profitable economic activity capable of attracting private investments and providing gainful employment for our people,” he said.
He added that the Government will institute policy, legal and regulatory reforms so that individual farmers feel encouraged to shift from subsistence production to market-oriented commercial production.
The President encouraged individual farmers to shift from subsistence production to market-oriented commercial agriculture to benefit more from the reforms in the sector.
He further urged sector ministries and other stakeholders entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the programme to cultivate a culture of performance and service delivery.
“While the completion of this new strategy is a major step forward, the main challenge is the implementation of the policies contained in it. I also urge the farming, pastoral and fishing communities as well as the private sector to cooperate and fully participate in the implementation of the strategy,” he stated.
The African Programme, The President observed, aims at supporting country-driven agricultural development strategies and programmes by establishing clear commitments to deliver on specific targets.
Stressing the importance of agriculture as an economic mainstay of most African economies, President Kibaki noted with regret that the sector remained largely underdeveloped in the continent.
“Moreover, up to 80 per cent of the total population in Africa live in the rural areas and are mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Out of the 874 million hectares of arable land in Africa, for example, only 27 per cent is optimally utilized,” he said.
The Head of State observed that, use of fertiliser in Africa was only on an average of 20 Kilogrammes per hectare per year and even lower in Sub-Saharan Africa where it was at 9 Kilogrammes per hectare compared to 100 Kilogrammes per hectare in South Asia and 206 kilogrammes per hectare for in industrialized countries.
He noted that application of improved seeds and mechanization for farm operations in Africa remained the lowest in the world and despite its enormous irrigation potential, only 1.4 per cent of Africa’s arable land is under irrigation compared to 49 per cent in South Asia.
The President attributed the persistent famine in African countries to underdevelopment of the agricultural sector which forced the continent to remain a net importer of food and agricultural products.
“Indeed, agriculture in the continent has generally performed poorly, with the relative share of African agricultural exports in world markets falling from 8 per cent in the 1970’s to 3.2 per cent currently. It is now estimated that the continent imports over 22 billion US Dollars worth of food,” he said.
He stressed the need for African countries to step up wide ranging measures aimed at revitalizing the agricultural sector so as to reverse the state of affairs.