President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday officially opened the 2018 ASK Nairobi International Trade Fair whose theme is the promotion of technology and innovation in agriculture for the achievement of Kenya’s Big Four Agenda.
More than 270 local and 56 international companies and institutions are holding exhibitions to showcase innovations and technologies to harness the potential of agriculture.
The trade fair, which is the biggest highlight of the Agricultural Society of Kenya calendar and the largest trade fair in Eastern African, has attracted international exhibitors from across the world including Tanzania, Egypt, Zimbabwe, India, Pakistan, Israel and China among others.
President Kenyatta toured many stands at the Jamhuri Show Ground among them the Affordable Housing stand where public and private firms are showcasing model houses that can be afforded by many Kenyans.
The provision of affordable housing is one of the pillars of President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda. The Big Four — food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and universal healthcare — are the pillars of the transformative economic blueprint aimed at securing President Kenyatta’s legacy.
The annual showcase, which kicked off on Monday and will run for seven days, is also exhibiting new technologies in agriculture including solar powered irrigation pumps. The Kenya Seed Company is also exhibiting new seedlings including a new highland maize variety that is resistant to the maize streak disease.
The President also toured the livestock exhibition and auction stand, and the Kenya Defence Forces exhibition which displayed innovations by the Kenya Armed Forces Technical College.
In his speech, President Kenyatta expressed pride in Kenya’s pioneering roles in science and innovation on the African continent.
He noted that 25 percent of all digital innovation startups out of Africa come from and are based in Kenya.
President Kenyatta challenged the private sector to promote more investors to support Kenyan technological startups, adding that the Government is also promoting policies that support innovations.
The Head of State listed some of the policies the government is implementing including the e-registration of farmers and expansion of the state sponsored insurance scheme for livestock and crops.
The President said the Government is promoting policies to increase the production of fish to plug the huge deficit in supply, estimated at 314 metric tonnes per year.
The Government is further implementing measures to encourage more private sector involvement in post-harvest handling and value addition to maximise revenue in the agriculture sector which has been allocated Sh57 billion in this year’s budget.
He said the government is promoting the consumption of blended maize flour in order to encourage the production of drought resistant cereals such as sorghum and millet.
While underscoring the importance of research and innovation in enhancing agricultural productivity, President Kenyatta said that the Government allocated Sh5 billion for agricultural research and Sh4 billion for the fertiliser subsidy programme.
He said the Government is increasing efforts to diversify Kenya’s export basket and to cut down inefficiencies in the value chain by 50 percent by 2022.
President Kenyatta said the government has made huge allocations to spur growth in the manufacturing sector in order to create more jobs as part of the Big Four Agenda.
“I want to reiterate that under the Big Four Agenda we have committed to ensure that by 2022 our nation will be food secure,” said President Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta called on all those tasked with managing public funds to ensure they are spent with integrity and for the reasons they are meant for.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko spoke at the function which was also attended by former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.