Over 35 Indian companies scout for investments in agriculture

Agriculture PS Dr Paul Rono(right), Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Namgya Khampa(centre) and India Secretary Economic Relations Ministry of External Affairs Dammu Ravi during the India - Kenya agriculture business forum in Nairobi on April 10, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A delegation consisting of chief executives of 35 Indian companies is in the country to explore opportunities for collaboration with the government and the private sector in agriculture.

The delegation is led by the Secretary of Economic Relations in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Dammu Ravi.

Ravi said the visit is a follow-up of the discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President William Ruto, who visited India last year to discuss how Kenya and the Asian giant's agriculture sector can work together for food security.

He was speaking at a three-day forum organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, The Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET), and the Indian High Commission to discuss areas where the two countries can collaborate in agriculture.

Ravi said the team is keen on aligning with the government's Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA). During the visit, the delegation would tour the counties of Narok and Nyandarua.

Principal Secretary for Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Paul Rono, said the $250 million (Sh33 billion) credit line to Kenya from India will be utilised to mechanise arable land to produce food for the country.

"Kenya is 80 per cent arid and semi-arid, and those lands are very fertile if we can only open up in terms of irrigation and mechanisation, but we have been having a challenge of getting financial support and other resources to open up on those business plans," Rono said.

"The $250 million engagement of India is to look at how we can mechanise our huge land."

Rono said they are keen on the private sector running some of the programmes, especially when it comes to opening land and ensuring the utilisation of land for food production and export.

The Principal Secretary for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Kello Harsama said they agreed with the delegation that they help in technologies and experience of land reclamation in arid areas.

"A large part of India is actually arid and semi-arid, and because of technology, they were able to reclaim all the arid lands. Now they are producing a lot of food to feed their people. Today we have agreed to share that technology so that Kenya can also reclaim arid and semi-arid lands to produce food for our population," said Harsama.

Harsama noted that they have also agreed on the establishment of institutions like developing skills in leather production and establishment of an institute to promote millet production in the country.

He said it was a big opportunity, especially in ASAL areas where huge chunks of land are not adequately used. "ASAL areas are the next frontiers for food production and investment in this country. I encourage investors to take advantage of the willingness of the government to allow investment in these areas," Harsama said.

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