ABOUT 1.2million hectares will be irrigated in the next five years as part of the government plan to eradicate drought-related hunger in the country, President Kibaki has said.
Speaking during the official opening of the 2011 Nairobi International Trade Fair on Friday, President Kibaki said this will reduce the country's reliance on rain-fed agriculture and guarantee the country food security. "I am directing the ministry of Water and Irrigation, the ministry of Agriculture and the Treasury to put in place adequate measures that will ensure that this is achieved," Kibaki said.
He said the government is committed to support the continued growth of the agricultural sector. "We are determined to see the transformation of this sector from one that mainly focuses on subsistence to commercial and market-oriented," said Kibaki. He added that infrastructure such as transport and energy plays an important role in agriculture and therefore the government had in the last seven years embarked on an ambitious road construction progamme.
Kibaki urged crop and livestock farmers to increase their production and benefit from the enhanced access to markets and improved distribution networks. In 2010 agriculture registered a growth of about 6 percent which is the highest achieved in the country in four years. The growth was fueled by the rise in the production of tea,cereals,sugar and coffee.
He noted that Kenya's food production has declined over the last few years due to several factors like drought,escalating food and fuel prices as well as high cost of farm inputs like fertilisers. He assured Kenyans that some measures had been set in place to mitigate the impact of increasing food prices. "The government has waived import duty on maize and wheat for a period of six months with effect from July this year," Kibaki said.
Land and Rural Issues
He added that the government had put in places measures to ensure that key agricultural inputs are available to farmers at an affordable price. "The ministry of Agriculture has a stock of about 40,000 metric tones of assorted fertiliser and adequate seeds for the next short rains,"Kibaki said. Present at the function was Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka,minister for Agriculture Sally Kosgei among others.
Kalonzo urged the participants,exhibitors and farmers to take advantage of the trade fair to enhance food security in the country as well as earn the country foreign exchange and reduce the rate of inflation. 360 exhibitors were present in the trade fair to exchange their products including China,France,South Africa,Nigeria,Sudan,Israel,Uganda among others. Kosgei urged the government to subsidise seeds and fertilisers inputs to help smallscale farmers afford the cost.
Source: newsroom - farmingnewsdaily.co.uk