?The Government has allocated more than Sh16.4 billion to the agricultural sector to improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and cushion the sector against climatic shocks.
In the spending plan for the 2018-19 financial year presented in Parliament Thursday, Treasury allocated Sh25 billion to the agricultural sector with key focus on irrigation and crop insurance for small-holder farmers.
“The severe drought that we experienced last year underscores the importance of reducing our reliance on rain-fed agriculture,” explained CS Henry Rotich in his budget statement Thursday.
A total of Sh8.5 billion has been allocated for irrigation projects in Bura and Mwea as well as for the proposed expansion of the National Irrigation Programme and Smallholder Irrigation programmes that is responsible for the Galana Kulalu irrigation project.
In addition to this, Sh4.3 billion has been allocated for subsididised fertiliser, Sh300 million for crop insurance and another Sh300 million for fighting fall armyworm menace.
Earlier this year, a joint parliamentary committee on Agriculture and Irrigation recommended the Government to set aside Sh1 billion to help combat the devastating pest that has caused losses in Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma and Nandi counties.
Kenya’s agricultural sector has in the past five years recorded a decline blamed on adverse weather conditions and inadequate resource leaving millions of small-scale farmers
In this year’s edition of the Kenya Economic Update, the World Bank recommended increased allocation to the agricultural sector if the Government is to reverse the decline recorded in the sector over the past two years.
“Boosting agricultural productivity and food security will require re-allocating more resources to agriculture and improving efficiency,” said the World Bank.
Earlier this month, Parliament made recommendations on crucial sectors in the Agricultural sector that require additional resources.
This included Sh1billion for coffee farmers within the fertiliser subsidy.
“The national government should improve on policy with regard to agricultural extension services and ensure all counties are offering these services,” said Parliament’s budget and appropriations committee.
Data from various budgets over the past 15 years indicates that Kenya’s budget allocation to the sector has been reducing and last year accounted for only 3 per cent of the overall expenditure plan.