22 May 2008

Kenya: Country to Benefit From Sh6.2 Billion Food Kitty

Nairobi — Kenya is among the African countries set to benefit from an emergency US$100 million (Sh6.2 billion) food aid in response to the rising international prices, the Government of Japan has said.

Japanese Ambassador, Shigeo Iwatani said that due to the urgency the matter requires his government will in May contribute US$50 million.(Sh3.1 billion).

New rice variety

He said that Japan is carrying out a project to spread a new rice variety for Africa (NERICA) which is created by combining the drought- resistant rice varieties grown in Africa with high-yield Asian varieties.

"While the rice varieties currently grown in Africa have a cultivation period of around 140 days, NERICA rice may be harvested after only 90 days," Mr Iwatani said.

He was speaking during a media briefing on the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to be held in Yokohama Japan on May 28-30 in which 41 African countries including Kenya will exhibit.

During the conference a Kenyan, Prof Miriam Were will receive the coveted inaugural Hideyo Noguchi African prize, for her contribution to advancing health and welfare to mankind.

Meanwhile, the Government has embarked on long term measures to safeguard farmers from exploitative traders and middlemen.

From next year, the government will control 40 percent of fertiliser sold in the country.

Signed contract

Already, the Ministry of Agriculture has signed a contract with Japanese dealers who will supply the farm input to the ministry.

"We will import and sell to the farmers at affordable prices. Over 70 percent of Kenya's population depends on agriculture. The sector must be protected at all costs," said Agriculture minister William Ruto.

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