Govt develops plan to reduce edible oil import dependency

Cooking oil. [iStockphoto]

The government has through the ministries of Agriculture and Trade targeted specific value chains in a bid to stimulate production, value addition, and marketing of agricultural products so as to lower the cost of importation that stands at over Sh100 billion per year.

Speaking during the official opening of the 2023 Central Kenya ASK Show in Nyeri, Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen said the country is heavily dependent on edible oil imports, and that there is a need for a robust and independent domestic production system.

“To address the generic issues affecting the agricultural sector, the government has identified specific value chains that have the greatest potential to turn around our economy, we have edible oils, rice, cotton, coffee, beef, leather and dairy value chains for accelerated promotion and development of their production, value addition and marketing to reduce the cost of importation of edible oils,” he said.

Murkomen added that the government aims to create a conducive environment for the growth and development of local industries while reducing reliance on imports.

“The production of edible oils, in particular, has emerged as a critical focus area. By boosting the local production of edible oils, not only can the country significantly reduce its import bill, but it can also create employment opportunities and empower local farmers,” he said.

He added that the government will reduce fabric imports by 15 per cent, and increase its exports by Sh150 billion by the year 2027 in order to increase farmers' income.

“The government will reduce the importation of rice, which currently costs the country Sh34 billion annually, by expanding our current rice production schemes in Mwea and Ahero, as well as establishing new rice production schemes and also investments in the cotton value chain have a dual benefit of reducing importation and increasing exports,” he said.

To enhance productivity within the livestock sub-sector, the CS said the government has announced plans to establish a Sh400 million plant, that will provide affordable semen to dairy farmers, significantly reducing costs from the current market price of Sh7,000 to Sh1,500.

”Currently, Kenya has 1.5 million heads of dairy cows and 16.5 million heads of beef cattle, these numbers add to the 36 million goats and 25.3 million sheep that have been a source of revenue for the communities, owing to their short generation intervals, high adaptability and versatile feeding habits the availability of affordable semen is expected to have a profound impact on the nation's milk production, with estimates suggesting a potential doubling in output,” he said.

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