The current government has launched a plan to make Kenya food secure, hoping to halve poverty levels by 2025.The plan includes increased mechanization in agriculture from the current 25 to 40 per cent. The government also aims to create an e-platform to register farmers. Apart from being provided with the services, farmers will also be trained on using selected equipment.
In a speech at the Future of Food conference in Nairobi last week, Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur urged the private sector to partner with the government in implementing the plan, focusing equipment suppliers, farmer associations, agro-dealers, warehouses and processors.
He added that above all, agriculture should transform from a producer of raw materials to a consumer of goods and services at every stage of the value chain. The government is dealing successfully with the higher input rates, poor agricultural market system, rapid population growth, huge post-harvest losses, unsuitable production systems and climate change pose the biggest challenge to sustainable food production.
Those at the forum lauded the government’s subsidy program though a majority opposed the idea of crop insurance for the country’s 2.3 million maize farmers, saying it is not feasible.Mr Eustace Muriuki of the Fertilizer Association of Kenya, proposed the subsidization of fertilizer imports at the port of entry, with set retail prices or provision of fertilizer to small scale farmers only.
In addition he mentioned that the government should withdraw the subsidy and ensure timely purchase and high payment to farmers for cereals delivered to its stores.The two-day conference recommended the creation of strong linkages between the market and production as well as the investment in a post-harvest management strategy.