President Uhuru pledges to focus on value addition of cash crops

President Uhuru when he launched the construction of Sh19 billion Thiba Dam in Kabare ward, Kirinyaga County. (Photo: Mose Sammy/Standard)

President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to spend his last term in office focusing on value addition of cash crops.

Uhuru said his government wants to boost earnings that come from the produce.

"We are working out the value addition strategy that will also come up with job creation through cottage industries, where youths will be engaged on a full-time basis as we move towards the reduction of unemployment in our country,” he said.

The head State was speaking at the Thiba Dam site in Kabare ward, Kirinyaga County, yesterday, when he commissioned a Sh19 billion project.

He said his administration would work with all county governments to make his dream a reality.

Uhuru said the national and county governments were not in any competition against each other because they derived their funding from State coffers.

The first step, he said, would be to address the plight of the coffee, tea, rice and milk sectors.

The dam project, jointly funded by the Japanese and Kenyan governments, is set to be completed within the next three years.

He commended the Japanese administration and its people for being good development partners since independence.

Various projects

"Our brothers from Japan have continuously helped us to achieve various development projects, which have in turn impacted positively on our national economy and improved the livelihoods of many Kenyans," he said.

Uhuru named the ongoing expansion of the Mombasa port, which on completion will be the largest along the East African coastline, among other notable projects in the country.

Accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, he reiterated that the time for politicking was up and he should be given a break to concentrate on the many Jubilee Party pre-election development pledges.

"I'm now calling on all Kenyans of goodwill to join hands together in national development regardless of political party affiliation or region since we have and live in one country,” he said.

Mr Ruto said the Government, in its efforts to fight food insecurity, planned to build 57 dams across Kenya to be used for irrigation and end famine occasioned by drought.

"In order to realise these earmarked development programmes, we need to move together as a people and I'm certain this will end the massive importation of foodstuff we have relied on to feed our people,” he said.

Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said crop production in Mwea would be doubled from the current 80,000 metric tonnes to 160,000 metric tonnes a year once the dam was completed.

In addition, he said other ongoing expansion programmes in rice-growing areas would see production rise to 240,000 metric tonnes per year and significantly reduce dependency on imports.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru said other than the dam, a tourist resort would be built in the the area around the reservoir.

She said besides the resort, boating and fishing would provide jobs for youths as well as generate incomes for residents.