30 April 2014

Kenya: Koskei Blames Banks for Food Insecurity

The lack of financial support for farmers is to blame for food insecurity in Kenya, Agriculture Secretary Felix Koskei said yesterday.

He told the Senate Committee on Agriculture that the minimum of 18 per cent interest rates charged by commercial banks has made it difficult for farmers to increase acreage under crops. "Any interest rate that is double digit is out of reach for farmers. Banks are reluctant to lower the rates to supplement government efforts to improve the country's food production," Koskei said.

He said the government has decided to subsidise the cost of farm inputs. However, Koskei maintained that the private sector also has a role to play in reducing overreliance on food imports. "We reduced the cost of fertilisers and ensured farm inputs were available to farmers on time and in the right quantities," he said.

The CS met the committee chaired by Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi at County Hall in Nairobi. Members of the committee had questioned Koskei over the high level of food insecurity and sought to know measures the government will take to lower the cost of production.

The committee was concerned that over the years, the country has been grappling with food insecurity yet little is done to correct the situation. But Koskei said 142,000 metric tonnes of fertilisers was imported into the country this financial year up from 70,000 last year.

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