Nairobi — Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco) has petitioned the National Assembly to pass a legislation that will enable the agricultural sector to benefit from the Road Maintenance Levy Fund to develop irrigation infrastructure in all parts of Kenya.
In the petition received by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula, the organisation also wants the Irrigation Act (No. 14 of 2019), the Kenya Roads Board Act (No. 7 of 1999), the Road Maintenance Levy Fund Act (No. 9 of 1993) and all other relevant laws be amended.
"Change the 'Road Maintenance Levy Fund' to 'Infrastructure Development and Maintenance Levy Fund' so that part of the fund can be used to develop irrigation infrastructure in all parts of Kenya and therefore boost the agricultural sector.
"Have the National Irrigation Authority become a beneficiary of the new 'Infrastructure Development and Maintenance Levy Fund' alongside Kenya Rural Roads Authority, Kenya Urban Roads Authority and Kenya National Highways Authority," the petition read in part.
At the same time, the organisation wants the National Irrigation Authority share the funds it gets from the new 'Infrastructure Development and Maintenance Levy Fund' equally among all the 290 constituencies.
"This Petition aims at having each constituency receive at least Sh100 million from the new 'Infrastructure Development and Maintenance Levy Fund' through the National Irrigation Authority to ensure various irrigation projects in all the 290 constituencies benefit from the funds and the overall agricultural productivity of the Republic of Kenya is boosted," the petition added.
Shofco said the petition, if adopted, will boost the agricultural sector in Kenya and address the problems of poverty, hunger, and unemployment in the country.
The organisation also argued that the petition is in line with the Kenya Kwanza manifesto which has committed to inject Sh250 billion to the agricultural sector in the next five years.
"The Kenya Kwanza manifesto notes that two thirds of Kenya's land requires irrigation but only 4% is actually irrigated. To address this, the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto proposes 'Shifting focus from large dams to household/community water projects, with emphasis on harvesting and recycling.' This is what this petition aims at achieving," Shofco said.
According to the Kenya Economic Survey of 2022 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the agricultural sector contributed 22.4% to Kenya's GDP and is the largest sector in the country.
Shofco has been supporting farmers in Rift Valley, Western Kenya, Nyanza and Coast regions.
In March 2023, over 50,000 farmers in Trans Nzoia, Siaya, Kisumu and Nyeri counties benefitted from the organisation's certified maize seeds worth over Ksh50 million.
Shofco Founder Dr. Kennedy Odede said his organisation carried out research to find the best-performing maize seeds that could take a short time to mature.
"Through research, we were able to get seeds that could mature within three months and do well in the areas we distributed them.
"The initiative is meant to support farmers and help them utilise their pieces of land to fight poverty and reduce the rural-urban migration that results in mushrooming of slums." Dr. Odede said.
In 2022, more than 100,000 smallholder farmers in Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia, Bungoma, Siaya, Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Kilifi counties benefitted from the seeds donation worth Sh83 million from Shofco.
The organisation has also been advocating for smart farming and is currently piloting it in Kilifi County in a 10-acre piece of land.