As the key driver of our economy, the agricultural sector continues to play a pivotal role in addressing food security, poverty reduction and wealth creation.
Indeed, the sector has been identified as a key contributor to the realisation of the 10 per cent annual economic growth rate envisaged under Vision 2030’s economic pillar.
The sector generates income and creates jobs for the majority of our people with over 80 per cent of the population relying on it for livelihood.
In this regard the Ministry of Agriculture, with support from the Food and Agricultural Organisation, is implementing a Sh220 million project to support the development of commercially viable business partnership between Small and Medium Agro-processing Enterprises (SMAEs) for increased profitability.
This will go a long way towards enhancing value addition and marketing of agricultural commodities.
To fast-track the achievement of the national objectives as long-term goals, we will give priority to implementing strategies for faster development of the sector.
These include key interventions such as introduction of affordable loans. In addition to the revival of the Agricultural Finance Corporation, the government has initiated a low-cost credit guarantee scheme to farmers from commercial banks, namely Equity, Cooperative, Family Finance, and the Kenya Women Finance Trust.
Providing subsidised fertiliser and farm inputs is among the other interventions.
We are encouraging every school to have a model farm that will include fish farms and the use of modern technologies such as green houses and production of high value crops.
Youth and women will also benefit from the youth and women development funds through the Agricultural Finance Corporation.
The establishment of a vibrant national irrigation scheme to open up more arable land and reduce over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture is a priority in the Jubilee manifesto.
We are also establishing a national livestock insurance scheme, as well as introducing an acceptable livestock evaluation system that will make it easier for pastoralists to access credit.
Maize production has faced many challenges including a disease that has afflicted the crop for some time now.
A taskforce formed to look into the disease came up with some management options to control it, including enforcing maize closed season, imposing quarantine of movement of maize materials from affected areas, enforcing the removal of all infected maize crops from fields, crop rotation and vector control through the use of pesticides.
The potato, being the second most important food crop after maize, has also faced many challenges, including lack of appropriate varieties, shortage of high quality seed, and inadequate storage.
We will enhance seed potato production through KARI and ADC for small-holder farmers to further increase potato production.
Pyrethrum is one of the important cash crops for our country but it has had its share of challenges and the ministry is committed to turning it around.