, NAKURU, Kenya, Jul 9 – President Mwai Kibaki has urged Kenyans to turn up in large numbers to vote for reform and change during the referendum on August 4.
Reaffirming his full support for the Proposed Constitution, President Kibaki noted that the country is at the threshold of major reforms that are contained in the proposed law.
“This is why I support the Constitution and urge Kenyans to turn up in large numbers and vote for reform and change on August 4,” President Kibaki said.
He was speaking on Friday at the Nakuru Showground where he officially opened this year’s Nakuru National Show.
Noting that there can be no meaningful economic growth or agricultural development without an efficient road transport system, the President said his Government had given the country’s road infrastructure development top priority.
In this regard, the Head of State pointed out that his Government was spending Sh19 billion to finance roads at various stages of construction in the Rift Valley Province.
President Kibaki said projects that are in the initial stages of construction include Sotik-Keroka, Bomet-Iten, Narok-Sotik, Nakuru-Subukia, Kisima- Wamba and Rumuruti-Maralal roads.
He added that the Lanet -Ndundori road is at the tendering stage and the Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu road contractor is being mobilised while a contractor is on the ground for Gilgil–Nyandarua road.
“These roads once completed will open up agricultural areas to their full potential. I am glad to note that many road projects have been completed. These include the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha-Lanet; Mau Summit-Kericho-Awasi, Lanet-Nakuru-Njoro turnoff and the Nakuru-Njoro-Mau Summit roads,” the President said.
On conservation, the President said the Government will this financial year plant one billion trees in its effort to restore the country’s forest cover.
Emphasising the Government’s commitment to the restoration of the country’s dwindling forest cover and protection of water towers, President Kibaki said his Government, through the Kenya Forest Service, has targeted to conserve a total of 100,000 hectares.
“This province carries three of our major water towers which include the Mau Complex, Cherangani hills and part of Mt Elgon Forest that we must jealously protect from any further encroachment,” the President said.
The President said the Government will also spend Sh28 million to pay youth engaged in tree planting, saying this will be bring an additional 930 hectares under forest cover through the Kazi Kwa Vijana programme.
In this regard, the Head of State urged all Kenyans to plant as many trees as they can in order to conserve the environment.
Said the President: “I also encourage farmers to protect the environment and particularly the forests so that agriculture can be a sustainable venture.”
Saying the theme of this year’s Nakuru National show “Driving Agribusiness in Attaining Food Sufficiency and VISION TWENTY THIRTY” underscores the importance of agriculture as the main driver of the economy, the President called on farmers from the Rift Valley Province to take advantage of the prevailing favourable production conditions to diversify into value addition.
President Kibaki observed that the province is not only the country’s bread basket but also produces a large variety of cash crops, saying last year the province produced 14.2 million bags of maize valued at Kshs 28.5 billion.
He said with the good rains experienced this year, production is expected to double to approximately 29 million bags which accounts for 63 percent of total national production.
“This tremendous increase in the production of maize, wheat and other food crops is a result of the Government’s efforts to support farmers in mechanization as well as provision of farm inputs,” the President said.
To ease the cost of farm operations and open new areas for cultivation, President Kibaki said the Government allocated 120 tractors over the last one year to boost farm operations in Rift Valley Province.
With regard to farm inputs, the President said the province received a total of 619 metric tons of assorted seeds valued at Sh71.7 million and 45,700 metric tons of subsidized fertilizer valued at Sh916 million.
He assured farmers that his Government will continue with programmes geared towards ensuring that the country produces enough food not only for local requirements but also for export.
Regarding cash crops, President Kibaki noted that the Rift Valley Province produced 176 million kilograms of tea valued at Sh18 billion last year.
On horticulture, the President said the Government will continue to promote horticultural farming in the country, noting that the sub-sector earned the country Sh49.4 billion in foreign exchange despite the challenges of drought and the global financial crisis.
“I am pleased to note that currently there are three horticulture development projects supported by the Government and development partners that are being implemented in this Province. These projects, will cost Sh4 billion,” President Kibaki said.
Besides cash and food crops, President Kibaki said the livestock industry brought in Sh23 billion from milk sales, adding that the increase in production and earning is attributed to the improvement of milk marketing structures by the Government and the private sector.
In this connection, the President said his Government will continue with pest and disease control programs as part of the national campaign to eradicate livestock diseases in the country in order to sustain the dairy and beef industry.
In view of unpredictable weather patterns, President Kibaki underscored the need for farmers to rely more on irrigated rather than rain-fed agriculture, saying the country has great potential for irrigation that is yet to be realized.
For the case of Rift Valley, the President noted that the irrigation potential for the province is 60,000 hectares out of which only 13,000 hectares have been developed while the drainage potential is 10,000 hectares but only 4,000 hectares have been developed.
To address this challenge, President Kibaki said 33 community irrigation projects and five drainage schemes were started at a cost of Sh82 million in the Rift Valley Province in the last financial year.
“Once completed, an additional 940 hectares under irrigated crop production will be achieved,” the Head of State said.
He urged farmers to turn more to irrigated agriculture in order to mitigate unfavourable weather conditions.
Speaking during the occasion, Agriculture Minster Dr Sally Koskei said she supports the Proposed Constitution because she knows it is good for the country.
The Agriculture Minister said the proposed new law is particularly good for women in the country as it ensures equity.
On land, Dr Koskei said she was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee at Naivasha and she knows that no one who acquired land rightfully will lose it.
She emphasised that she will remain steadfast in support of the new constitution and those hoping she’ll decamp to the “No” side are wasting their time.
“I want to go down in history as a person who strongly urged people in the Rift Valley to support the Proposed Constitution because it is good for all Kenyans,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Other speakers included Livestock Development Minister Dr Mohammed Kuti, ASK National Chairperson Alice Kalya and Nakuru National Show Chairman Jepta Rono among others.