Kenya's agricultural sector is underfunded, experts say

Farmers in Chepkorio area harvesting potatoes. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

Kenya has lagged behind in achieving the Maputo Declaration to allocate at least 10 per cent of the national budget to agriculture.

Agriculturists and lawmakers meeting in Mombasa on Friday said the country’s agricultural sector was underfunded, off track, and made no efforts to achieve the 2003 continental commitment.

The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Livestock chairperson Dr John Mutunga said Kenya’s agriculture sector requires an annual budget of Sh360 billion to be sustainable and address food security.

He said Kenya’s current annual budget of Sh60 billion to the sector was insufficient to ensure sustainable food and crop production. Mutunga spoke in Mombasa during a national parliamentary retreat in Mombasa hosted by AGRA that brought members of the Senate National Assembly Committees to deliberate on the Maputo and Malibu declaration.

Dr Mutungu, MP for Tigania West, said that Kenya’s agricultural sector needs a 10 per cent increase in funding to increase production of food commodities instead of importing. “Kenya has been off-track so far in the implementation of the Maputo declaration and has only been able to meet one of two targets every year. We have countries like Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania which have invested in agriculture, and their economies are growing by double digits,” said Dr Mutunga.

He said that a large population is anchored in agriculture, and when the government invests a lot of resources, it invests in people and fuels industrialisation.

Mutunga said Kenya needs to guarantee and attract investors in large numbers by making the agriculture sector reliable, quantifiable and variable and ensuring consistent production of raw materials.

“We need the senate and two national assembly committees responsible for budget allocation in the agriculture sector to understand how countries that have put more and enough money into agriculture are growing faster than Kenya which has not done that,” said Mutunga.

He said the budget for rural agricultural development has not exceeded four percent. He said last year it grew from 3.8 per cent to 3.82.

The MP said that the sector needs a 10 percent increase in budgetary allocation which amounts to Sh360 billion a jump from the current Sh60 billion. “With Sh360 billion budgetary allocations, we will be able to fund the research system. For an effective and vibrant agriculture system, we need to give research two percent of the budget which is empirically proven figures studied thoroughly,” said Mutunga.

He said with the two per cent going to research, the country will be able to produce a variety of commodities that are sufficient.

Mutunga said Kenya has the potential to be self-sufficient in sugar, rice wheat, and oil production all of which are imported.

“The budgetary allocation is very little and scarcity follows very serious decision-making which leads us to not giving the correct sectors the support they need including research and lowering the cost of production,” said Dr Mutunga.

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