By Kennedy Kangethe
Nairobi — Kenya plans to invest Sh20 billion in the agricultural sector in the next five years to improve the interests of farmers in the country.
This was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta when officially opening the sixth Africa Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi.
President Kenyatta said the move is intended to facilitate more than 150,000 farmers with access to markets, finance and insurance for machinery among others.
He noted that heavy investment in agriculture could effectively reduce poverty.
He urged African countries to follow suit and commit to increase investment in agriculture so as the continent can feed its people and create opportunities for young people to get jobs.
“Though we have made a good progress in the last five years we need to do more, agriculture needs to be seen more as a business, than assistance. It is 11 times more effective in reducing poverty,” the President explained.
He urged African nations to also streamline strategies and create policies that enhance agriculture with the help of the private sector.
“There is need to create a continental scorecard, that will help us in tracking the progress of the commitments made here at this forum, and those that were made earlier in other forums,” he emphasised.
Agriculture contribution to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product currently stands at 27 percent making it the largest contributor of the economy.
In 2015 the sector’s gross value improved to 6.2 percent in the period under review from 3.5 percent in 2014 due to good weather and abundant rainfall that led to improved crop and livestock production.
Maize production went up by 9 percent to 42.5 million bags while sugarcane production increased by 4.6 percent to hit 6.8 million tonnes according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
However, tea and coffee production went down by 10.3 percent and 16 percent respectively negatively affecting their earnings.
AGRF being hosted in Nairobi has brought about 1,500 delegates together to discuss the way forward in tackling the challenges affecting the sector in the continent.
Among the issues being deliberated include poor crop yield, investment opportunities and use of technology to increase agriculture gross value.