Nairobi — Ireland and Kenya have signed bilateral agreements and grants aimed at boosting the agricultural sector.
Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who also visited Somalia and Ethiopia earlier in the week, presented a five-year plan on Ireland and Kenya to collaborate in agriculture.
Dubbed the Ireland Kenya Agri-Food Strategy 2017 - 2021, the strategy is to see enhanced cooperation and investments in Agri-Food for the mutual benefit of both countries.
Fisheries permanent Secretary Micheni Ntiba says the deals will increase Ireland - Kenya trading values in agri-food by 100 percent.
Coveney and Ntiba witnessed the signing of business agreement between an Irish firm IPM Group and Kevian Kenya on potato farming where the two firms will develop a technology for production of seed potato that will provide higher yields.
Girffith College (Ireland) and Riara University also signed an education deal while the Nairobi Hospital and Irish Firm Vitro Software also signed a multi-million contract where Vitro Software will provide clinical management software for the healthcare sector.
"These grants and MOUs will see institutions and policies strengthened in support of the agri-food sector in Kenya and increase agricultural output and family incomes in Kenya," Ntiba said in a news conference.
Farming is at the heart of Kenyan economy accounting for nearly 30 percent of GDP and employing over 11 million people.
Currently, the sector is dominated by smallholder farmers at 80 percent earning low incomes.
"There is a huge potential to increase the productivity and incomes of these farmers. The country has an active cooperative movement and an exceptionally strong mobile payments infrastructure. These and other features can be leveraged to extract more impact from agri-food to Kenya's benefit," Coveney said.
Key exports from Ireland include essential oils and perfumes, office and data processing machinery, beverages and dairy products while Kenya exports to Ireland include flowers, fruit vegetables, tea and coffee.
The total annual trade, incorporating exports and imports, between Kenya and Ireland increased from 2.7 billion shillings in 2005 to Sh4.7billion in 2014.