Kenya has been urged to invest more in agriculture and come up with policies that give the sector more attention if it wants to realise the “Big Four” agenda.
Speaking while unveiling the latest Kenya Economic Update, Allen Dennis, World Bank senior economist said that all the four agendas depend heavily on agriculture which contributes heavily to the country’s GDP
‘’Agriculture contributes about 51 per cent to GDP: 26 percent directly and another 25 percent indirectly. Consequently, the sector remains a major driver of the Kenyan economy, with years of strong agricultural sector growth reflecting in overall GDP growth,’’ said Allen
‘’The county’s manufacturing potential will be sprout by the growth in agriculture. Food for all can only be realized with heavily investment and good policies in the agricultural sector. People are what they eat, showing a connection between food and health’’
The lender regretted that Kenya is doing less to grow the sector that defines it economy
‘’While the agriculture sector contributes some 25 per cent to GDP and over 60 percent to employment, less than 2 percent of total expenditures in FY 2016/17 were allocated to the sector in Kenya. This is well short of the 4.5 percent average in sub Saharan Africa and the recommended 10 percent agreed to under the AU Malabo Declaration,’’ report said
Furthermore, only two percent of the total arable land in Kenya is irrigated compared to six percent in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and 37 percent in Asia. Recent studies show that for SSA economies returns to irrigation range from 17 percent for large scale farmers to 43 percent for small scale farmers, and can triple per capita farm incomes, with significant impacts on poverty reduction
The global lender want Kenya to introduce property taxes on agricultural land to encourage the utilization of large tracts of fertile but idle agricultural land to increase access to land for smallholder farmers and to support the food security agenda.
It has also urged the country to increase the adoption of drought resistant or tolerant varieties; investing in soil and water management; and providing timely climate and weather information services to farmers to improve their production decision-making.
Under the ‘Big Four’ agenda, the Jubilee administration has prioritised delivering affordable housing, rolling out universal health coverage, increasing the share of manufacturing in the economy, and improving food security