The Star (Nairobi)

13 June 2014

Kenya: Food Security Targetted With Huge Irrigation Spend

THE government has allocated Sh24.4 billion to address the challenges in the agricultural sector in the new financial year. National Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich said Sh9.5 billion will go to the ongoing irrigation projects, Sh300 million for the revival of the pyrethrum sector and Sh300 million for establishment of a free disease zone.

"To ensure full realization of food security and lower food prices, I am allocating Sh3.5 billion to the Galana Kulalu irrigation project; Sh.3 billion for inputs subsidy including fertilizer; Sh2.7 billion for strategic grain reserves; Sh1billion for fisheries development; and Sh700 million for the revival of the Kenya Meat Commission," Rotich said during the presentation of the budget statement in the National Assembly yesterday.

He said out of the total Sh24.4 billion, the Jubilee government has allocated Sh8.2 billion for construction of water pans and dams, Sh4.1 billion for water supply and sanitation and Sh1.5 billion for environmental protection conservation and management.

"Considering the challenges of drought and floods we continue to face as a country, we have once again prioritized flood control and water harvesting. I have provided Sh5 million for completion of the multipurpose dams that were started under the economic stimulus program," he said.

According to Rotich the hefty budget will reverse the decline in agricultural exports through value addition and accelerating inclusive growth for economic transformation since most Kenyans deliver their livelihoods in the sector.

"Agriculture is best positioned to open up opportunities across the country and sustain equitable development and prosperity. This will largely depend on unlocking the potential of the sector through active participation of the private sector along the value chain," he said.

He added that the government is engaging with financial institutions and development partners to establish an agribusiness fund saying "the private sector can access the fund in order to fast track implementation of the one million acre Galana irrigation project and agricultural transformation ventures throughout the country." "The financial institutions have indicated willingness to leverage government's seed capital by a scale off one to ten," he said.

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