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Scrap ‘failed’ agriculture subsidies, experts advise State

By Dominic Omondi | Published Thu, February 15th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 14th 2018 at 22:08 GMT +3
Relief food for food for aid during a drought crisis. [Photos by Ali Abdi/Standard]

Agricultural subsidies have been ineffective and should be scrapped, experts say.

Speaking yesterday in Nairobi during a pre-budget hearing in Nairobi, the experts said although the Government was subsidising farm inputs, yields had not improved.

Some of the subsidy programmes are on seeds and fertiliser. The Institute of Economic Affairs chief executive, Kwame Owino, said the management of the subsidies was wanting.

Mr Owino said some companies sold substandard seeds to farmers under the subsidy programme.

“Farmers can, for example, be given vouchers rather than allow private companies to give substandard inputs,” he said.

Least allocation

Dr Timothy Njagi, a research fellow at Tegemeo Institute, a policy think tank, said for the Government's 'Big Four' (manufacturing, universal healthcare, and low-cost housing, and food security) agenda to be realised, it needs to allocate more resources to agriculture. “We can’t say agriculture is the most important to the economy, but when it comes to investment it is the least,” he said.

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In the past five years, the Government has invested heavily in farm inputs such as seeds, fertiliser, and pesticides. However, this had not translated into improved yields.

For example, while the value of total inputs between 2012 and 2016 increased by 59 per cent from Sh36.5 billion to Sh58 billion in 2016, production of maize stagnated.

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