President Uhuru Kenyatta today urged county governments to settle down quickly and embark on fulfilling their mandates to serve Kenyans.
The President called on the county administrations to start operating at full speed, and to especially give more attention to policies to boost production in the agricultural sector, which under the Constitution is a devolved County function.
He said the Jubilee Government has invested sufficient resources to boost agricultural production, both crop and livestock, as well as the fishing sector.
Speaking when he opened the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Central Kenya Regional Show at Kabiruiini Show Grounds, Nyeri, President Kenyatta said the National Government wants to see Counties play a bigger role in agriculture since most of the functions in the sector have been devolved to county governments.
“At this moment, I would like to call upon County Governments to commit more resources towards the revitalization of agriculture in their respective counties to feed the nation,” said the President.
He said the county governments should continue to revise and customize the National agricultural related laws and policies to suit the current technological advances and research.
The President called on counties to spearhead the establishment of cottage industries and value addition initiatives to raise the value of products.
“This should be attained by involvement of local private investors as well as international investors and development partners to venture and benefit from this unexploited potential,” said the President
The President said food security remains a priority in Kenya’s development agenda and the national government will continue leading the way in addressing the major challenges facing the agriculture sector.
“In this regard, my Government is keen in implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as envisaged in the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development and eradication of hunger by 2030,” said the President.
The President encouraged the Nyeri County Government to continue fulfilling its mandate by formulating and overseeing implementation of several policy and legal instruments such as: Tea Cess Act and Agriculture Development Fund Act, as well as Livestock bill, Coffee bill and Tea bill.
He called on the Nyeri County Assembly to settle down quickly and to fast track several agriculture Bills that are awaiting approval.
The President said the Jubilee Government has increased funding for agriculture and has put in place measures to address food availability in the country.
In the 2016/17 financial year, the Government allocated Sh 29.6 billion to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries for implementation of key interventions including subsidized inputs, Strategic Food Reserve, crops, livestock and fisheries development, that will result in reduction in cost of living by reducing food prices and boosting overall rural development.
“Fertilizer subsidy, Establishment of Commodities Fund, Modernization of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange into a Commodities Exchange and full liberalization and diversification of market access are some of the initiatives being undertaken by my Government,” said the Head of State.
He said the Jubilee government continues to transform the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) in order to have a wide variety of food stocks, stabilize food prices and adequately cater for any emergencies.
In the 2016/17 financial year, the Government allocated Sh5.5 Billion for purchase of maize for the Strategic Food Reserve.
The aim of the Government is to increase the maize stocks in the reserve from 3 Million bags to 4 million bags.
“SFR is implementing the ongoing Government maize subsidy programme to cushion consumers against high maize flour prices. To-date, the subsidy Programme has imported 5.7 million bags of maize at a cost of Sh20.4 Billion,” said the President.
On the livestock sub-sector, which contributes an annual revenue of Sh450 billion to the economy, the President said the National Government has undertaken measures to boost the production of milk and beef.
The Government has invested enough resources in establishing sufficient milk cooling plants, made it a priority to control livestock diseases and enhanced provision of extension services in collaboration with counties.
The President said the Government has also supported fish farming to diversify and meet national food security goals.
The overall objective of the Government is to increase fish production in the country by 10% annually to achieve a target of 450,000 MT by 2030.
“In this regard, my Government has instituted key reforms for sustainable management and development of the fisheries sector to spur economic growth,” said the President.
The Government has already enacted the New Fisheries Management and Development Act 2016, which established independent institutions including the Kenya Fisheries Service (KFS), Kenya Fisheries Marketing Authority (KFMA) and Kenya Fisheries Advisory Council (KFAC) to steer development of the fisheries sector.
He called on county governments to take fish production as a serious opportunity for economic growth, adding that there is need for increased production from our fish farms, lakes and oceans to eradicate the need to import more fish.
The theme of the show is ‘Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and Trade’. This theme emphasizes the importance of innovations and technology as key drivers in enhancing food security, agricultural growth and trade.