Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi answers questions at the Senate Plenary session , Senate Chambers, Parliament ,Nairobi, May 22nd,2024. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has threatened to  expose leaders in the Executive and Parliament who owe Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) millions of shillings.

Linturi who appeared before the Senate Plenary Wednesday to shed light on status of unpaid loans by government officials and politicians, said that AFC is an agricultural bank that is faced with financial challenges and the borrowings had exceeded the capacity to disburse more funds.

“I will have no option but to name those in Parliament and Executive who have taken money and are not paying the Agriculture Finance Corporation funds are meant to finance agricultural productivity and not for other activities,” he said.

At the same time, the CS assured farmers that top-dressing fertiliser will soon be available at National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores across the country after the National Treasury released Sh3 billion to pay the suppliers the initial consignment.

Linturi who narrowly survived an impeachment motion over the fake fertiliser scandal, said farmers have had a challenge with top-dressing fertiliser, after the supply was delayed due to non-payment.

This followed a question by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei on whether the government was going to provide farmers with top-dressing fertilisers.

“We want the agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi to assure the country that there are enough supplies of top-dressing fertilisers and how many farmers have been compensated for fake fertilisers?” Posed Cherargei.

Linturi told Senate that the government would set aside Sh500 million for livestock farmers to restock animals they lost during the drought and floods that hit the country in the recent past.

He said Kenya had identified meat markets in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

The CS told the House that the ministry has sought approval of a budgetary allocation of Sh416.6 million towards collection of GeoDatabase for all coffee growers, coffee farms, cooperatives, estates and processing factories.

Linturi said in collaboration with relevant state agencies and the county governments, the ministry has formed a multi-agency team whose mandate is to collect geo-location or geo-coordinates for all the coffee farms, estates and coffee cooperatives in all the 33 coffee growing counties.

He noted that the multi-agency team comprising of Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI), Kenya Water Tower Agency (KWTA), and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) will provide secondary data on forests and tree cover, wildlife protected areas and conservancies, and water towers respectively.

“The Directorate of Remote Survey and Resource Sensing shall avail remotely sensed data and shape files that will be necessary for baseline while the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) is coordinating the compilation of existing geographic vector data and Kenya Space Agency (KSA) for satellite imaging and space systems,” said Linturi.

Kirinyaga Senator James Murango had asked the CS to state what measures the government has put in place to ensure that coffee and coffee products comply with the requirement of the European Union Deforestation Regulations that coffee not be sourced from areas affected by deforestation or forest degradation after December 2024.

Linturi said that the ministry through the Agriculture and Food Authority will establish and operationalize ICT data centre for receiving and transmitting data.

On coffee production, the government will produce coffee digital maps and establish coffee database that will not only address the European Union market demands but enhance management of the coffee sub sector in Kenya.

The CS said the information to be collected will include; forest cover mapping so as to determine probable level of encroachment by coffee farmers, provide precautionary measures to avert losing the European Union market.

Nominated Senator Joyce Korir asked Linturi to state the strategies and initiatives the government has adopted to promote value addition in slaughterhouses, particularly by-products such as hooves, hides and skins, to enhance economic returns of livestock farmers in Kenya.

In response the CS Linturi told the Senate that the government through its Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) has identified the leather industry as a driver of the economy.

"This is based on its huge potential for sustainable growth as is supported by a huge livestock population that produces an estimated 3 million hides and 18 million skins per annum with capacity to sustain a competitive substantial leather and leather products manufacturing,” he said.

Linturi noted that the Government targets to grow the industry from its current value estimated at Sh15 billion, employing an estimated 17,000 people.

He said this will be achieved through enhancing collection, preservation and delivery of all locally produced hides and skins to tanneries for processing and thereafter manufacturing of high value leather products for both domestic and export markets.

The CS told Senate that the Directorate of Veterinary Services and Kenya Leather Development Council is building the capacity of various stakeholders in the leather value chain in order to improve the quality of hides and skins by raising awareness among producers, training of slaughterhouse operators and flayers and other leather value chain players.

“The government is planning to build curing bandas where they are currently missing near slaughterhouses to help mop up all hides and skins produced and then value add through preservation of green hides and skins produced by local farmers to prevent spoilage,” he said.

Linturi said the government has built a Leather Industrial Park in Kenanie, Athi River and Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority tannery in Narok to process hides and skins produced by farmers.