President Uhuru Kenyatta has said Kenya will use science and technology to achieve inclusive agricultural growth, nutrition and food security in the country.
He said the new approach will enhance agricultural productivity by targeting small scale farmers with new technologies.
The President said the new approach will mean moving away from the old policy of using subsidies as the only method to boost production. He said subsidies have always benefited the rich but not the small scale farmer who is crucial in the country’s resilience.
“We must rely more on scientific data to drive our policy interventions on input subsidies and strategic food reserves,” said the President.
“We must empower our farmers with the information necessary to increase their output per acre, reduce their unit cost of production and, therefore, significantly improve returns on their investment,” he added“.
The President said the Government is seeking ways to support the revival of crop and livestock extension services, which hold the key to improved productivity.
He spoke at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, when he launched the ‘Feed the Country Plan’, aimed at making Kenya food secure, which is championed by the American government and Kenyan research institutions.
The President said he was pleased that the US Government through USAID has already allocated KSh 11.5 billion for food security and agribusiness under the Feed the Country Plan.
In the last five years the USAID Feed the Future program, has invested Ksh 22 billion in Kenya to assist over a million farmers and pastoralists with various interventions towards achieving food security and higher incomes.
“I wish to thank the US Government for this support and for being among the first development partners to come through with such support for my Government’s Big 4 Agenda,” said the President.
The President said the answer to reducing the cost of food is innovation, mechanisation and increasing scales where empirical evidence shows bigger acreages results in better yields.
“For those of us responsible for setting the necessary policies and regulating the agricultural sector, we have no choice but to open ourselves to new ideas, and benchmark our standards with countries that are food sufficient,” said the President.
The President called on research organisations in Kenya to get more involved the transformation of agriculture.
He said Kenya has research institutions that are reservoirs of information; technology and innovations accumulated over the years which if applied can revolutionalize agriculture.
He said his Administration encourages research institutions to be at the forefront in helping government contain emerging threats such as the Fall Army Worm.
President Kenyatta urged the institutions to focus their financial and human resources on delivery of technologies and innovations at farm level which is the focus of agricultural transformation.
Agricultural and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, assured the President that his ministry will deliver 100% of its ‘Big Four’ agenda on Food Security and Nutrition in partnership with other stakeholders.
United States Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said 900,000 farmers in Kenya have benefitted from the Feed the Future Programme since its inception.