Nicholas Waitathu and Kirera Mwiti @PeopleDailyKe
Kenya and India have set aside Sh10 billion to finance and promote mechanisation of the country’s agriculture.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the government has received part of the funds from Exim Bank of India to boost its own budgetary allocation for the process.
The money will be used to support local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to purchase equipment to boost productivity. Kiunjuri said the government’s demonstrated enthusiasm to modernise agriculture is receiving a lot of support from the donor community to help produce more food to feed the surging population and boost food security and nutrition component of the Big Four agenda.
Kiunjuri said key beneficiaries of the mechanisation process would be small- scale farmers. “Under the Sh10 billion kitty, we will source low cost and multipurpose tractors that are easy to manage and grant them to the farmers to modernise their farms. Going forward our intention is to upscale the level of mechanisation by between four and five per cent every year,” he said.
Kiunjuri made the remarks while opening the first Farm-Tech Expo organised by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Karlo) at its Naivasha Dairy Research Institute. “Agriculture mechanisation is key to the achievement of the Vision 2030 and so far we have 16 programmes and all of them have a component of mechanisation,” he said.
John Mutunga Tigania, West MP and a member of the Departmental Committee on Agriculture and Livestock decried the low budgetary allocation to agriculture sector, saying it has hindered the required growth.
“When agriculture doesn’t grow, Kenya stagnates and the gross domestic product (GDP) doesn’t grow. If we have money in agriculture, you will not need to look for it elsewhere,” he said.
In the 2018/19 financial year, Mutunga said agriculture did not feature among the top 10 gainers of the country’s budgetary allocation yet food security and nutrition is a key pillar in the Big Four agenda.
“The sector only gets three per cent of the budgetary allocation. This is really disappointing and is something the government should look at if the country is to fully achieve the Big Four agenda,” he said.
Kiunjuri also disclosed plans by the ministry to fast-track measures aimed at luring more youth into the agriculture sector.