What you need to know:
- President William Ruto said the government had taken several steps to transform the agriculture sector.
- Head of State said the government had increased the use of improved seeds and fertiliser as part of reforms to increase food production.
The government has written off Sh117 billion owed to it by state-owned sugar companies in preparation for leasing out the mills to private players, President William Ruto said yesterday.
The Head of State also reiterated his government's determination to implement reforms in the agricultural sector, which he said was the backbone of the economy.
The government, he said, has embarked on reforms in the agriculture and livestock sectors aimed at achieving the country's economic transformation and industrial development, "particularly income generation and provision of raw materials for manufacturing".
President Ruto was speaking at the opening of the Nairobi International Trade Fair at Jamhuri Park yesterday.
He said his government had increased the use of improved seeds and fertiliser as part of reforms to increase food production and reduce the cost of living.
"Transforming agricultural productivity is therefore the most bankable strategy to turn around our country's economy," President Ruto said, adding that farmers' produce must go through the value addition process to increase their competitiveness and income.
"We are doing everything possible to ensure that farmers do not suffer the consequences they went through in the recent past," he added.
Dr Ruto argued that the transformation of the country would only be achieved through the increased use of improved agricultural inputs and the marketing of Kenya's hides and skins around the world.
"We will also support 2 million food deficit farmers to become surplus producers through access to affordable finance for inputs and agricultural extension to increase productivity in key food value chains including maize and dairy," the President said.
President Ruto said the government had taken several steps to transform the agriculture sector, including providing farmers with adequate and affordable working capital to increase productivity.
Dr Ruto further said plans were at an advanced stage for the government to lease out idle land owned by public institutions to private investors under the Land Commercialisation Initiative.
The move, he said, would go a long way in addressing the dwindling availability of land for agriculture.
The regulatory reforms, Dr Ruto said, are being undertaken to empower farmers and give stakeholders a say in the affairs of the sugar industry.
“We remain vigilant and shall closely monitor progress to ensure that government decisions to advance the interests of sugar growers and consumers are fully implemented in a timely fashion,” he said.
As a short-term measure to mitigate the high cost of food, President Ruto said his government had waived duty on imported maize, rice, sugar and raw materials for manufacturing livestock feeds.
“The National Food Reserve is also being enhanced and diversified to cushion the country against food shortages and ensure the availability of food during emergencies,” he added.
President Ruto said the national government was collaborating with county governments to establish an aggregation centre for every county, equipped with common-user facilities for storage and processing, enabling farmers to reduce post-harvest losses and also earn more from their produce.
“We’re collaborating with the county governments to establish an aggregation centre for every county, equipped with common-user facilities for storage and processing to reduce post-harvest losses.”
Food constitutes 54 per cent of household expenditure, according to the president, with agriculture employing 70 per cent of Kenyans.
Kenyan manufacturing industry, the president said, remains largely defined by agriculture. About “40 per cent of manufacturing jobs are in the agro-based industries, which accounts for over half of the sector and 48 per cent of GDP,” he explained, adding that value addition remains the most viable means of enhancing the competitiveness of our agricultural exports.
He said that there were plans to elevate Nairobi ASK show to International status. At the same time, he said achieving food security would help address cost of living.