SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2017 NAIROBI INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR, JAMHURI PARK SHOWGROUND, NAIROBI, 4TH OCTOBER, 2017

On August 15, 2018 In Statements and Speeches

Fellow Kenyans,

Farmers and Exhibitors,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today during the official opening of the 2017 Nairobi International Trade Fair.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is an important event in our nation’s calendar.  It provides a platform to showcase the latest innovations and technologies in the agricultural sector.

It also provides an opportunity for Kenyans to appreciate the potential we have as a country.  But more importantly, an opportunity to share experiences and knowledge on modern technologies and establish business linkages.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You will agree with me the significant role played by Agriculture towards our economic growth and development, cannot be overemphasized.

For this reason my Administration has over the last four years allocated substantial budgetary resources to cater for the needs of this sector.

For the current Financial Year, 2017/18, allocation to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries is close to Ksh. 30 billion.  These resources are being utilized to finance implementation of programmes and projects that will go a long way to boost agricultural production and, therefore, ensure we are food ensure.

As part of my Administration’s agenda to ensure Kenyans have access to food at affordable prices, over the last four years, we have taken steps to improve accessibility of fertilizer to farmers at a reasonable cost.

In 2016/2017 Financial Year, as an example, the Government procured and distributed a total of 177,100MT of various types of fertilizers at a cost of Ksh. 5.9 billion.  The subsidized fertilizer is retailing at Ksh 1,800 per 50 kg.  This has resulted in stabilizing the fertilizer prices in the open market.  To further cushion farmers against rising cost of inputs, the Government has reduced the price of planting fertilizer to Ksh 1,200 per 50kg for the next season.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our efforts to ensure sufficient food production have occasionally been frustrated by drought and incidences of pests and diseases, resulting in shortfall in food supply.  This year, for example, the nation faced a shortfall of 8 million 90kg bags of maize, which saw prices of maize and maize flour escalate to unacceptable levels.

As a caring Administration, we had to take steps to cushion consumers against the high food prices.  In this regard, we instituted and successfully implemented a subsidized maize flour programme that lowered the price of a 2kg packet of maize flour from Ksh 150 to Ksh 90.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To boost our food security and sustain affordable price for maize flour, the Government will buy under the Strategic Food Reserve, all the maize offered for sale by our farmers during this 2017/18 season.  For this purpose, we have programmed to spend Ksh 6 billion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you may be aware, our cereal sub-sector is currently faced with the emergence of a new pest known as “fall army worm”.  This presents a real threat to our future food security.  In response, the Government has constituted a multi-institutional technical team of experts and provided Ksh.300 million towards containing this pest.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In addition, to cushion farmers and pastoralists against negative impact of climate change, my Administration has in the recent past initiated crop and livestock insurance programmes.  For crop insurance, the Government is providing 50% subsidy in premium payments for the farmers.  In FY 2016/17, 243,000 farmers have joined the scheme in the 10 pilot counties, notably: Bungoma, Embu, Nakuru, Migori, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Kirinyaga, Meru, Kwale and Kilifi.  We intend to cover a total of 31counties with 5 million farmers on board by the year 2022.

For livestock insurance, my Administration has, in collaboration with the County Governments and the private sector, initiated the Kenya Livestock Insurance Programme.  The insurance is aimed at cushioning pastoralists in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands against adverse effects of forage scarcity resulting from severe drought.  The Programme currently covers 8 counties, notably: Wajir, Mandera, Turkana, Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu and Tana River.  So far, over 1000 pastoralists have already benefitted from the livestock insurance programme at a cost of Ksh 300 million.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Access to credit has been identified as a major factor constraining farming business.  To make it easier for our farmers to secure credit, my Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Equity Bank, in which the Government agreed to underwrite loans to the tune of Ksh 300 million and the Bank to lend Ksh 20 billion at 12% interest rate per annum.

In addition, the Government, through Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC) and, in partnership with IFAD, is underwriting Ksh 270 million to leverage Ksh 1.6 billion to facilitate small scale farmers to access credit.  In FY 2016/17, AFC lent Ksh 6.76 billion to 85,000 farmers for cereals and livestock production.

I urge all the agricultural value chain actors to take advantage of these loans to modernize their operations. But in order to ensure sustainability of this important credit facility, all beneficiaries should strive to repay their loans.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The tea sub-sector continues to do well as has been manifested by the production and earning records. Tea production in 2016 reached an all-time high of 473 million Kilograms and export earnings was Ksh 120.6 billion while local sales were Ksh 15 billion.

In order to diversify our tea markets, my Administration has identified markets in Germany, China, Russia, Japan and USA.  Further, 7 cottage factories have been licensed to manufacture specialty teas and 10 tea factories have installed orthodox tea production lines.

 In this regard, I urge the East Africa Tea Trade Association to provide a window for the auction of Orthodox tea at the auction centre.

For the coffee industry, my Administration has allocated Ksh 300 million in FY 2017/2018 for the implementation of a number of reform initiatives. The reforms are aimed at strengthening the farmers’ cooperative societies,rehabilitation of the coffee factories, and promotion of value addition and product diversification.

In addition, the reforms are expected to result in improved productivity,reduced cost of production and efficient processing technology, upgrading of Nairobi Coffee Exchange, and enabling regulatory frameworks.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 2015/2016 Financial Year, Kenya’s coffee export to the world stood at 44,343 MT, valued at Ksh 20.5 billion.  I am happy to note that the interventions we have made to improve the performance of coffee industry have started to bear fruit.  Indeed, noteworthy is Kenya’s winning the Portrait Country status in Seattle, Washington State in USA in April, 2017.

This achievement gives us an added advantage to market Kenya’s specialty coffee in the world market. Consequently, Kenya’s coffee sales to the specialty market have realized a steady increase of 60% between April and August this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The horticulture industry is the fastest growing sector in Kenya, with an average annual growth rate of between 15 to 20%.  Annually, the sub-sector earns Ksh 101 billion in foreign exchange and contributes 30% of food security and employs, directly and indirectly, over 6 million Kenyans.

As a country we have made great progress in strengthening quality and safety checks to ensure that our agricultural products meet the highest international standards and attract the markets and prices that their quality deserves.  In regions like Europe where our products faced quality challenges, mechanisms are already in place to address them.  Indeed, we now have the National Horticulture Traceability System in place.

In this respect, I urge our exporters to take advantage and make use of it to increase horticultural exports to Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The sugar industry is a key sector in the Kenyan economy.  It supports livelihoods of 6 million Kenyans. My Government has disbursed Ksh 21 billion to facilitate industry players to access affordable long term credit at a rate of 5% per annumgrants and for infrastructure improvement through construction of bridges, factory rehabilitation, cane development, andresearch and innovation.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The livestock sub-sector is a significant player in the economy.  To facilitate milk marketing and reduce post-harvest losses, both levels of Government will partner with other stakeholders to provide dairy farmers with more milk coolers.

In dairy, one of the major constraints has been access and affordability of artificial insemination services.  The Government has responded by installing a modern semen production plant at the Kenya AnimalGenetic Resource Centre.

The plant has the capacity to produce annually  over 1.6 million doses of semen.  The new facility has led to reduction of the cost of Artificial Insemination (AI) service by about 50%.  The Government is also constructing a semen production station in Kitale at a cost of Ksh 800 million to support livestock producers in the surrounding region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the Fisheries sub-sector, the Government has expanded the mandate of the State Department of Fisheries to include the Blue Economy, and also enacted the Kenya Fisheries Development and Management Act of 2016.

Kenya is a signatory to the Port State Measure Agreement (PSMA), which the Government has ratified. To actualize this, three sites have been identified, in Lamu, Kilifi and Kwale Counties for the construction of fishing ports.

Further, the Government has acquired the research vessel (RV Mtafiti), which, I am proud to note, is now the largest vessel in the entire Western Indian Ocean region.  The vessel has been undertaking research cruises boosting the management and exploitation of marine resources along Kenya’s coastline and the region.  With all these initiatives, fisher folk and other stakeholders have the opportunity to take full advantage of exploiting fully, our fisheries potential.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Government is committed to ensuring that effective and efficient transport systems are put in place. The completion of the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), is a major milestone.  This has proved critical, particularly in the agriculture sector by easing transportation of relief food and maize under the subsidy programme from the port of Mombasa.  Since its commissioning in June 2017, the SGR has transported 95,950 tonnes and 6,945 tonnes of subsidy maize and relief rice, respectively.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The policy thrust of the Government is to transform agriculture from subsistence to commercial and market oriented farming.  As part of this effort, my Administration has partnered with Elgon Kenya Ltd Company to conduct an Annual Farmers Award Scheme.

I will today award recognition certificates to the farmers who, in the competition have emerged best in the various categories.  I congratulate them all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In concluding my remarks, let me take this opportunity to recognize the entire Agriculture Society of Kenya (ASK) fraternity and our farmers, my team in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, and all stakeholders who, I am sure, have invested a lot of their time and other resources to make this Trade Fair, a success.

Finally, it is now my pleasure to declare the 2017 Agricultural Society of Kenya Nairobi International Trade Fair, officially open.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

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