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Nairobi, July 24, 2010
President Mwai Kibaki today officially launched the Kenya Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and witnessed the signing of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme.
Speaking during the launch at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, President said his Government has developed a new Agricultural Sector Development Strategy 2012 to guide further development of the countrys agricultural sector in line with the comprehensive African Agricultural Development programme.
The strategys overall objective is to achieve an agricultural growth of 7 per cent per year over the next 5 years. It aims at positioning the agricultural sector strategically as a key driver for sustained economic growth, President Kibaki said.
The President noted that new programme, which recognised private sector participation as key to sustainable growth in agriculture, aims at positioning the sector strategically as a key driver for sustained economic growth.
In this regard, President Kibaki said the Government will endeavour to create an environment that will enable the private sector to take over many of the commercial enterprises that are currently with the Government.
Said the President: Our aim is to transform Kenya s agricultural sector into a profitable economic activity capable of attracting private investments and providing gainful employment for our people.
He added that the Government will institute policy, legal and regulatory reforms so that individual farmers feel encouraged to shift from subsistence production to market-oriented commercial production.
In this connection, President Kibaki encouraged individual farmers to shift from subsistence production to market-oriented commercial agriculture to benefit more from the reforms in the sector.
President Kibaki, at the same time, said Kenya s signing of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) shows the countrys commitment to domesticating the continental agricultural programme in the country.
The Head of State urged sector ministries and other stakeholders entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the programme to cultivate a culture of performance and service delivery.
While the completion of this new strategy is a major step forward, the main challenge is the implementation of the policies contained in it. I also urge the farming, pastoral and fishing communities as well as the private sector to cooperate and fully participate in the implementation of the strategy, the President said
The African Programme, The President observed, aims at supporting country-driven agricultural development strategies and programmes by establishing clear commitments to deliver on specific targets.
Stressing the importance of agriculture as an economic mainstay of most African economies, President Kibaki noted with regret that the sector remained largely underdeveloped in the continent.
Moreover, up to 80 per cent of the total population in Africa live in the rural areas and are mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Out of the 874 million hectares of arable land in Africa , for example, only 27 per cent is optimally utilized, said the President.
Regarding farm inputs, the Head of State observed that, use of fertiliser in Africa was only on an average of 20 Kilogrammes per hectare per year and even lower in Sub-Saharan Africa where it was at 9 Kilogrammes per hectare compared to 100 Kilogrammes per hectare in South Asia and 206 kilogrammes per hectare for in industrialized countries.
President Kibaki also noted that application of improved seeds and mechanization for farm operations in Africa remained the lowest in the world and despite its enormous irrigation potential, only 1.4 per cent of Africas arable land is under irrigation compared to 49 per cent in South Asia .
The President attributed the persistent famine in African countries to underdevelopment of the agricultural sector which forced the continent to remain a net importer of food and agricultural products.
Indeed, agriculture in the continent has generally performed poorly, with the relative share of African agricultural exports in world markets falling from 8 per cent in the 1970s to 3.2 per cent currently. It is now estimated that the continent imports over 22 billion US Dollars worth of food, President Kibaki said.
In this connection, the Head of State stressed the need for African countries to step up wide ranging measures aimed at revitalizing the agricultural sector so as to reverse the state of affairs.
Ensuring available and affordable agricultural inputs to farmers backed by strengthened and well maintained extension, research and innovations, agro-processing and marketing institutions was the surest way to attain sustainable agriculture in the continent, the President said.
He underscored the need for a review of credit laws to enable farmers access affordable credit.
President Kibaki also called on African countries to consider increasing investment in irrigated agriculture so as to achieve more than 50 per cent of its irrigation potential by 2020 while ensuring farmers have good access to markets for their produce.
The President said improved rural infrastructure, instituting guaranteed minimum returns and farm insurance schemes, transforming farming enterprises from producers of primary raw material to producers of value added products ready for consumption will motivate farmers to increase production.
The Head of State commended the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and COMESA for their relentless efforts in spearheading the continental agricultural agenda.
The Agricultural Development Strategy jointly developed by ministries of Agriculture, Livestock Development, Regional development, Lands, Forestry and Wildlife, Fisheries, Environment and Mineral Resources, Water and Irrigation, Cooperative Development and development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands aims at improving on the living standards of Kenyans under the vision a food-secure and prosperous nation.
Among those who spoke during the launch, included Cabinet Ministers Dr. Sally Koskey, Fred Ngumo, James Orengo, Noah Wekesa, Dr. Otwoma Nyongesa, Mohamed Elmi, John Michuki, Dr. Mohamed Kuti, Charity Ngilu and Joseph Nyaga.
©2010 State House, Nairobi Kenya