NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14- Kenya is now urging foreign investors to consider the country as an investment hub in the region, particularly in the agricultural sector.
While addressing participants during the Gulf Food Festival at the World Trade Centre in Dubai, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said Kenya is making giant strides towards becoming a preferred investors’ destination.
“Investors should consider several frontiers in agricultural investment including production of white milled sugar while also generating by-products like molasses, ethanol and electric power, large-scale production of the Ngowe mango variety through a system of nucleus farms, investment in livestock production and livestock product processing,” he said.
The CS who led the Kenyan delegation in the forum called on investors to consider other agricultural investment like the production and milling of rice and dairy processing.
“There are plans to set up a milk processing plant in Nakuru County as the demand for dairy products is expected to continue rising at the rate of 15 percent for the next 12 years,” he announced.
He however regretted that agricultural expansion has not kept up with the rise in demand, adding that, “food security and poverty continue to pose fundamental challenges to populations whose countries are on the verge of economic take-off.”
The CS called for exerted efforts into combating new challenges facing agriculture including climate change which has made rain-fed agriculture highly unpredictable.
“Small scale farmers must become more productive in order to generate more food, inputs and earn more. This means that they must be introduced to new farming technologies. For this to happen, countries must eliminate barriers hindering access to financing by small scale farmers,” he said.
He further agitated for the weaning off of African farmers from over reliance on rain fed agriculture and introduction to diversification and better farming practices.
Koskei said that Kenya has developed comprehensive legal and policy frameworks to facilitate undertakings and collaborations under any of investment models.
“We are strategically positioned, as the gateway to East Africa to become a hub for regional and pan-African trade, especially in agricultural commodities. We are accessible to the world through our ports, road and rail networks and burgeoning air transport system. As the dominant economy in Eastern Africa, Kenya contributes more than 40 percent of the region’s GDP,” he told investors at the forum.