FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE

SCAVENGING THE INTERNET

GOVT. TO INCREASE AGRICULTURE BUDGET BY 8% (Kenya)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 12, 2008

Posted: Tue, Nov 11, 2008

Written by: PPS

President Mwai Kibaki has assured farmers that the Government will increase budgetary allocation to  President Mwai Kibaki flanked by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Agriculture Minister Hon. William Ruto tour and exhibitions after he officially opened the National Agriculture Sector Second Biannual Conference at Safari Park hotel, Nairobi.the agricultural sector from the current 4.5 to 8 percent of the national budget.

Speaking when he officially opened the 2nd Biannual National Agriculture Sector Conference at Safari Park Hotel Tuesaday, President Kibaki reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to improving the agricultural sector for the benefit of the Kenyan farmer.

“We are ready to increase the funds allocated to the agricultural sector so as to improve the sector because farmers are paying slightly more tax than they used to,” President Kibaki said.

In this regard, the President challenged farmers to abandon outdated farming methods and adopt modern techniques that would guarantee them maximum returns for their hard labour.

The Head of State advised farmers to work closely with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in order to transform the sector and make it more profitable.

On its part, President Kibaki said, the Government is implementing far reaching measures aimed at expanding and improving the agricultural sector.

He directed the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance to come up with interventions whose implementation will contribute towards increased productivity and reduction of high food prices.

Under the Vision 2030, President Kibaki said that the Government envisaged expansion of the existing cultivated land by over one million acres as well as establishing a manufacturing plant for fertilizers and agro-chemicals to boost agricultural productivity.

The President said, “In this regard, I am directing the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the necessary funds are made available.”

Noting that Kenya has the potential of becoming the regions grain-basket, President Kibaki expressed optimism that Kenyan farmers too were capable of doubling productivity so that the country could enjoy food security and have enough for export.

The Head of State called for urgent support to farmers to establish stable cooperatives that would enable them engage in agro-processing and value addition of their products which can significantly boost their income base.

“This is critical because with a contribution of 24 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product worth over 342 billion shillings per year, agriculture is the single most important sector to the growth of Kenya’s economy,” said the President.

President Kibaki pointed out that the Government’s efforts to revive agricultural institutions are reflected in the improved performance of individual sub-sectors and commodities thus tremendously increasing export earnings.

“For, example, export earnings from horticulture have increased from 37 billion in 2004 to 65 billion shillings in 2007. Realizing that this sub sector has greater potential and room for expansion, my Government is putting more efforts to further develop the small scale farmers to participate more actively in growing of horticultural crops,” noted the President.

With regard to the milk sub-sector, President Kibaki noted that milk production had increased from 2.8 billion litres in 2002 to 4.2 billion litres in 2007 while annual milk exports to the neighbouring region rose from 1 million litres to 22 million litres during the same period.

The Head of State hailed the revival of Kenya Meat Commission which is currently slaughtering 50 tons of beef for local consumption and exports 10 tonnes of beef to Dubai worth Shs 2.5 million.

Due to the enormous contribution of the livestock rearing to the socio-economic development of farmers, President Kibaki further directed that the sector be expanded by construction of satellite abattoirs in Isiolo, Moyale and Marsabit.

He said, “We must take these steps because my government recognizes the central role the livestock sub-sector plays in the socio-economic development of our people, especially those living in Arid and semi-arid areas.”

During the occasion the President expressed the Government’s commitment in reviving the extension services with the support of development partners, adding that the budget allocated to offer the services had been increased from 1.3 billion shillings in 2003 to over 5.4 billion shillings in the current financial year.

The President said, “We have also revived all the 27 Agricultural training centers and procured an additional 10 bulldozers and 125 tractors to revive the Agricultural Machinery Services. Farmers can now hire tractors for their farm operations at affordable cost.”

He further noted that the strengthening of the Agricultural Finance Corporation to provide affordable credit to farmers and the Kenya Seed Company to provide seeds at an affordable cost would improve tremendously agricultural productivity.

President Kibaki said, “While farmers need extension and research to improve agricultural productivity, affordable credit and inputs are also essential.”

The President further said that the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development would support the Government to invest about 4.3 billion shillings in the next five years to revamp small-scale irrigation projects.

The Head of State said, “I urge farmers to take advantage of this investment and grow high value crops such as flowers, Soya beans, French beans, fruits, herbs and spices for sale to the regional and international markets.”

The President added that the Government remained committed to harnessing Kenya’s irrigation potential to over dependence on rain-fed agriculture, saying that in the past four years major irrigation schemes have been revived.

“In addition, the Government with support from IFAD established eight small irrigation schemes covering a total of 980 acres. Plans are also underway to irrigate an additional 3,500 acres at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme at a cost of 8.3 billion shillings with support from the Government of Japan,” said the President.

President Kibaki, at the same, directed the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in collaboration with Ministries of Agriculture and Regional Authorities to invest more resources in areas suitable for irrigation.

The Head of State, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the slow pace in which some sectors of agriculture have lagged behind, citing the pyrethrum and cotton industries and directed the ministry concerned to expedite necessary reforms to enable farmers reap enough benefits.

He said, “I am however not satisfied with progress we have made in reforms in cotton and pyrethrum crops. Despite injecting some 250 million shillings annually, production of cotton has only increased from 45,000 to 53,000 bales in the last 3 years.”

With regard to the sugar sector, President Kibaki directed that the private sector be involved in sugar processing and marketing to achieve efficiency in industry particularly with the coming to end of the COMESA safeguards by 2012.

The Head of State also praised farmers for their hard work and appealed to them to protect the environment by increased planting of trees and practicing soil conservation.

Speaking during the occasion, Agriculture Minister William Ruto thanked President Kibaki for making deliberate efforts to improve the agricultural sector.

The Minister said the President’s personal intervention in the sector had recorded remarkable achievements, contributing 51 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Several senior Government officials including Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura among others attended the occasion.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘KENYA BROACASTING CORPORATION’

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