DP Rigathi Gachagua fires warning to Kenyan envoys

Deputy president-elect Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has said ambassadors appointed by the new government will sign an agreement to seek new overseas markets for Kenya’s agricultural produce.

The envoys will be required to meet targets on marketing the country’s produce abroad every two years and those who fail will be recalled.

“For all our ambassadors and high commissioners, 70 percent of their work will be to look for new markets for our agricultural produce while expanding the existing markets. We have agreed that they will all sign an MOU for two years on what we expect them to do, enlarging existing markets and creating new ones. Those unable will be recalled to come back and start farming,” Mr Gachagua said.

The government had earmarked Sh3 billion for a crop insurance programme to mitigate the effects of drought, and fertiliser subsidies are expected to lessen the burden on farmers as they seek to improve production.

“We are looking forward to [making] agricultural produce and products more competitive globally,” Mr Gachagua said when he opened the Nairobi International Trade Fair that entered its fourth day on Thursday.

Organised by the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK), the fair at the Jamhuri Park Showground in Nairobi ends on Sunday.

This year’s theme, ‘Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture & Trade’, aligns with the government’s agenda of transforming the sector, Mr Gachagua said.

Revamp agriculture

He cited the fertiliser subsidy programme as one of the interventions intended to revamp agriculture.

Regretting that an average household spends about 54 percent of its monthly income on food, Mr Gachagua said the government’s interventions to bring down the cost of farm production will help reduce the cost of living.

The government, organisers of the fair and agriculture players hope the exhibition will help offer solutions for the food production value chain in Kenya.

As the world suffers from the adverse effects of climate change, which has led to unreliable rainfall and prolonged droughts, farmers were urged to embrace modern technologies and innovations on display at the fair.

“The government has set aside Sh3 billion for a crop insurance programme to manage losses [caused] by drought, disease and pests invasion,” Mr Gachagua announced.

The programme covers 1.3 million farmers across 37 counties in the Irish potatoes and green grams value chains.

With 350 local and international exhibitors, participants are expected to learn about various technologies in the food and agricultural production value chain, financial solutions and transport.

The exhibitors include 300 locals and 50 from countries such China, Tanzania, Egypt, Botswana, India, Iran and Pakistan.

They come from the agriculture, manufacturing, housing, small and medium enterprises, banking, technology, public and private technology and hospitality industries.

Plant trees in gazetted reserves

Mr Gachagua used the Nairobi fair to defend his remarks in Baringo County last week about the so-called shamba system. He said farmers will have to agree to plant trees in gazetted reserves as they grow crops in between “and when they mature they vacate”.

Also attending the official launch of the exhibition were Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja, Agriculture CAS Anne Nyaga and Nairobi ASK branch chair Mr Joseph Mugo.

Mr Sakaja urged the national government to increase its allocation to the county so as to boost modern urban farming.

The entry fee for adults is Sh300, while children and students pay Sh250. Ms Nyaga said young farmers, through 4K Clubs in schools, will showcase their farming activities.

This, she said, is meant to nurture future farmers.

The fair returned after a two-year break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.