The Government has adopted reforms in the agricultural and livestock sectors aimed at attaining the country’s economic transformation, President William Ruto has said.
President Ruto argued that the transformation of the country would only be achieved with the increased use of improved farm inputs as well as commercialisation of Kenya’s skins and hides across the globe.
He said there was need for farmers’ produce to go through the value addition process to increase their competitiveness and income.
Speaking during the official opening of the Nairobi International Trade Fair, held at the Jamhuri Park grounds, on Wednesday, President Ruto said the Government has increased the application of improved seeds and fertilizers as part of reforms to increase food production and reduce the cost of living.
President Ruto said that the agricultural sector remains the backbone of Kenya’s economic and industrial development, particularly income generation and provision of raw materials for manufacturing.
“Transforming agricultural productivity, therefore, is the most bankable strategy to turn around the economy of our country,” said President Ruto.
The Head of State enumerated several measures that have been taken by the Government to transform the agricultural sector including; availing adequate and affordable working capital to farmers for increased productivity.
He noted that the Government would comprehensively manage agricultural-related risks to cushion farmers from uncertain nature of farming.
“We will also assist 2 million food deficient farmers to become surplus producers through availing affordable finance for inputs and agricultural extension to increase productivity of key food value chains including maize and dairy products,” said President Ruto.
Dr Ruto added that efforts were being made to revamp underperforming or collapsed export crops rice, coffee, cashewnuts, pyrethrum, avocado and macadamia nuts.
At the same time, President Ruto assured sugar and coffee farmers that the Government was doing everything possible to revitalize the sectors.
He said the Cabinet has approved the write-off of Sh 117 billion owed by the state-owned sugar companies in readiness for leasing the mills to the private sector entities.
“This intervention will inject competitiveness in the sector, and on expiry of the leases, the mills will revert to the communities on a cooperative model. Difficult decisions have been made to ensure that sugarcane production is restored,” said President Ruto.
He said the Government is also undertaking regulatory reforms that will ensure farmer empowerment and a direct say by stakeholders in the affairs of the sugar industry
The Head of State noted that although there was a market challenge at the moment in the coffee sector, the Government was doing everything possible to address the problem.
“We are doing everything possible to make sure that farmers do not suffer the consequences they went through in the recent past,” said President Ruto.
The Head of state further said plans are at an advanced stage for the Government to lease out idle land held by public institutions to private investors under the Land Commercialization Initiative.
He said the move would go a long way in addressing the dwindling availability of land for farming.
Nairobi Governor Johnstone Sakaja said the development of the agricultural sector remains key to addressing challenges facing the country.
“We are going to create a conducive environment for our farmers besides establishing markets for their produce,” said Mr Sakaja.
Present were Cabinet Secretaries Aden Duale (Defense), Simon Chelugui (Cooperatives and Micro and Small Enterprise), Attorney General Justin Muturi and deputy Chief Justice Philemona Mwilu among others.