, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – The completion of a 57-large-scale dam construction programme, support for small-holder agricultural drip irrigation and public-private partnership in the enhancement of commercial agricultural production on at least 1.2 million acres, are among key Jubilee Party pledges to improve food production – if Kenyans grant them a second term in office.
Speaking while unveiling his manifesto in support of his re-election bid, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he will support the modernisation of agriculture with a focus on small-holder farmers and we will make farming an attractive business and career for young people by promoting agriculture and agribusiness.
He told party supporters that the success of his administration’s transformation agenda, which started in 2013 when he ascended to the Presidency, hinges on the success of the agricultural sector.
“In the next five years we will establish a Food Acquisition Programme to create demand and stabilise market prices for products from small-scale farmers who will be encouraged to form cooperatives in maize, wheat and potatoes. Under this programme, the government will buy 50 per cent of its food requirements from small holder farmers,” President Kenyatta told the packed Kasarani Stadium.
The agriculture sector is one of the most critical in our economy. It contributes approximately 27 per cent to the GDP, about 40 per cent of government revenue and more than 60 per cent of the total export revenue.
In addition, about 80 per cent of the population relies on agriculture, directly or indirectly, for employment and livelihood.
The Jubilee Party government, he said, would work toward opening up a million acres of land through irrigation.
In his first term in his office, the Jubilee Administration expanded the acreage under irrigation from 354,775 acres in 2013 to 483,670 acres in 2017 including a 4,000 acre pilot project in Galana Kulalu, a Food Security Project which has 2,000 acres cropped with maize. This will greatly improve food security in the country.
President Kenyatta further pledged to transform the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) into a Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) to include other food stuffs such as sorghum, millet, beans, peas, milk powder and canned beef.
In his time in office, President Kenyatta also said, farmers’ concerns about the cost and effort of getting their produce to market will be addressed.
“In the next five years, we will double the fertiliser subsidy initiative, reducing the cost to farmers to less than Sh1,500 expand the programme to include all crops with a resultant increase in production; support the expansion and capacity of local fertiliser manufacture.”
The Head of state noted that his administration has secured access to local and international markets for horticulture, livestock and fish produce.
He also boasts of securing European Union Certification for farmed fish and the fact that Kenyan fish can now access the EU.
President Kenyatta added, that the economy will continue to benefit from value added agricultural produce which will fetch higher prices in the international market; a market he said his government will continue to work toward expanding.
The Jubilee Party Leader committed that in the next five years, it shall work with the 47 county governments to establish at least one agricultural produce market that provides a central outlet for agricultural produce where farmers can sell directly rather than through middle men.
“We will enhance the one-county-one-product initiative to facilitate better post-harvest management of food through food storage facilities, cold rooms and transport and distribution networks across the county,” the President stated.
Also in a bid to improve overall security, especially in drought prone areas such as North Eastern Kenya, the Head of State promised to build more dams and therefore negate the need to fight over water.
“In the next five years, we shall operationalise the Water Sector Trust Fund to supply grants to counties to assist in financing of water services particularly to marginalised areas, rural areas considered not commercially viable and under-served urban areas,” he said.
President Kenyatta added, that his government would propose a solution to the land disagreements that have dogged the nation for decades by removing emotion from the equation and shifting the focus to land as a key to economic growth.
“We will formulate a land value index which shall be used for determining the cost of land in different parts of the country and to promote the use of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) framework to resolve land disputes on inheritance,” he told party supporters who had thronged the Kasarani gymnasium.