Mkulima today agriculture is one of the main drivers of Kenya’s economic growth and accounts for 65 percent of all exports according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. With such huge potential and is, the largest employment sector the new directives to boost farming making agriculture lucrative.

In recognition of the agricultural sector’s role in economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction the government has taken notice.

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Boost farming making agriculture lucrative

As a result in the coming ten years, the ministry of agriculture unveiled the agricultural transformation and growth strategy that runs from the year 2019.

The new guidelines have three action fronts. This will cover

  • to boost the incomes of small scale farmers, fish folks, and herders
  • scale-up agricultural output and value addition
  • boost household resilience

To achieve the first goal President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive to the treasury to release funds to the ministry of agriculture to

  • mop up milk from small scale farmers
  • set up new cooling plants
  • refurbish existing ones
  • as well as pay farmers reasonable figures for raw milk

The National treasury also released funds to the NCPB to mop up rice farmers in the Kano and Mwea areas under the strategic food reserve agency.

Some 3 billion shillings were also allocated to the newly created coffee advance cherry fund to enable farmers to access credit to fund their farming ventures.

To scale up the agricultural value chain the president has focused on value addition and boost food resilience.

The targeted industry includes food processing and the leather industry this is because they both offer low-hanging fruits for the president’s big 4 agenda.

In order to see this come into action and reality, President Uhuru Kenyatta rolled out a new potato value addition program in Nyandarua County.

This is the first of three facilities that the government has planned to set up at a cost of 100 million shillings each.

The facility in Ol Kalou would provide and enable farmers to store their produce for a period of six months to avoid flooding the market with potatoes during peak harvest season and resulting in low earnings.

A recent report by the USAID – funded Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises indicates demand for potatoes rippled between2004 and 2014 due to urbanization.

Though there is increased demand it is Egyptian, South African, and European tomatoes farmers who are feeling the gap in the market.

Kenya’s potato varieties are of poor quality making global fast-food chains like KFC, JAVA, and Subway import potatoes.

The country’s arable land stands at 5.5 million hectares and only 160, 000 hectares of that is under potatoes farming producing 2.9 million metric tons per annum.

Most of this production is done by small-scale farmers representing about 83 percent of potatoes farmers.

To help turn around the fortunes from the low-yielding seeds the ministry of interior, the national youth service, the Kenya prisons correctional services, and the Kenya Agricultural and livestock research organization among other state agencies have partnered.

Together they aim to develop new high-yielding potato seed varieties on a massive scale in the next two to three years.

Once the project is in high gear, the prospects for boosting food efficiency in food production to meet nutrition needs for the nation, increased income for farmers, and poverty reduction impact are big.

In addition, the use of the national youth service trainees and prisoners is aimed at keeping the cost of developing the seeds low and affordable to the farmers like you and me.

This will also teach more potential farmers in the potatoes value chain when the prisoners are released or the trainees graduate.

Credits: Michael Mugwanga

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