With the right policies, we can reduce poverty
SEE ALSO :State can do better on food securityPoor infrastructure People generally refer to material deprivations such as not having enough money, employment, food clothing and housing combined with inadequate access to health services and clean water. International standards of measuring poverty is quantifying the amounts of money people live on, generally between US$1 to US$2 per day. In Kenya, poor people are vulnerable to risks. Particularly people in the rural areas who depend on agriculture might face risks from poor harvest due to inadequate rainfall or lack of access to markets for their produce as a result of poor infrastructure and high transport costs. In Garissa along the River Tana, one farmer said they are forced to dump a large part of their perishable produce due to their inability to transport them to the main markets where prices are better. Being an agrarian country, the only way for farmers to sufficiently access the markets and maximise on their profits is form cooperatives that can give them leverage through economies of scale.
SEE ALSO :Two million Kenyans facing food crisisAcross the globe the Agri-processing businesses are dominated by few international companies because most of these own the entire chain. Take the example of Brooke Bond, a multinational company that produces, transports and processes tea. This company has monopolised the entire chain giving it comparative advantage in terms of pricing due to economy of scale and the network to access their produce to the market. Their produce Recently while visiting Qatar, I ended up in the main fresh vegetable market. Qatar is a country that imports anything that is edible. A quick scan gave me a clear impression that the Kenyan farmers are not represented in the group of farmers who export their produce to Qatar. Clearly, the Kenyan farmers do not engage is serious marketing efforts. During the last devolution conference I was impressed by the words of Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru. In my view, she has understood the international dynamics of trade because she stated that her county has already ventured into the business of marketing their produce in the international market taking away the role of the middlemen who take away a large junk of the profit. Poverty, therefore, is a direct product of our farmer’s inability to use economies of scale to take advantage of the demand for our produce. The vulnerability of our farmers and people in the rural areas is definitely as a result of decades of exclusion from government investment.
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