Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Awuor Omamo is among four candidates vying for president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad).
Other candidates in the race are Mr Shobhana Kumar Pattanayak from India, Mr Khaled A. Mahdi from Kuwait and Dr Alvaro Lario from Spain, who is the current associate vice president and chief financial officer of Ifad.
The elections will take place on Thursday during a three-day Ifad conference that starts today (Wednesday) in Rome, Italy.
The conference is on food security and financing for rural development. It is happening both physically and virtually and will be attended by stakeholders from across the country.
If elected, Ms Omamo will take over from former Prime Minister of Togo Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, who has led the institution since April 1, 2017. He was reappointed for a second term in 2021.
Ms Omamo is a lawyer and was the first female chairperson of the Law Society of Kenya.
She was also the first Kenyan female ambassador to France and Portugal. Before her appointment as the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, she was the Defence Cabinet secretary for seven years.
Major achievement for her and for Kenya
Her election as the next Ifad president will be a major achievement for her and for Kenya.
Ifad runs 18 agricultural programmes in Kenya. So far, the agency has spent USD 333.6 million (Sh39.7 billion) since 1979.
Ifad is a specialised United Nations agency and international financial institution that invests in eradicating rural poverty in developing countries around the world.
The agency funds agriculture to empower women, the youth and smallholder farmers.
About 63 percent of people from across the world are poor and work in Agriculture. Ifad has so far empowered 512 million to improve their live hoods.
More than 294,000 people in Kenya are employed in agriculture and more than 7.5 million are small holder farmers. Majority of those in agriculture are women and the youth.
Moreover, about 15.4 per cent of the Kenyan population translating (7.9 million people) suffer hunger and food shortages. The most affected areas the northern parts of Kenya including Turkana, Marsabit, Garissa, Kitui, Isiolo and Samburu, among others.
Currently, the cost of farm produce has risen in the country, increasing food insecurity among citizens.