Private sector players launch new plan to boost agriculture

Chairperson of the Agriculture Sector Network Bimal Kantaria. [Ignatius Odanga, Standard]

Private players in the agriculture industry have launched a bold plan to steer agribusiness interests.

Under the banner Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET) the network that comprise various private sector players launched its three-year strategic plan to help coordinate efforts geared towards transformation of agribusiness.

Speaking during the launch, Principal Secretary in the State Department of East African Community Kevit Desai lauded the move, saying it will go a long way in boosting the agriculture industry that contributes more than 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. He also assured the industry of government support.

The launch last week was also attended by Principal Secretary in the State Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy Micheni Ntiba and Principal Secretary in the State Department of Livestock Harry Kimtai.

ASNET Chair Bimal Kantaria said the strategy comes at a time the industry has done well, registering one of the best performance ratings this year despite the challenges of Covid-19. 

Dr Kantaria attributed the improvement to unprecedented government support through the pandemic. 

Watermelons on sale in Kakamega town. [File]

Essential service

President Uhuru Kenyatta, on advice from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, earmarked agriculture as an essential service, making it possible for produce and support supplies to move unfettered during the restrictions on movement. 

Additionally, rains have been fairly good while a swift response to the locust outbreak forestalled what would have been a disaster.

ASNET was born out of the need for a coordinated approach to identifying challenges and recommending interventions required for a functioning agriculture sector.

Prior to its formation, the sector was served by an estimated 400 business management organisations each pursuing its own agenda. There was duplication of activities slowing down development and support.

With the formation of ASNET, development partners can now work with sector leaders by channelling support to high impact projects without having to spend time trying to map out baseline surveys for priority areas. This information will be available at the touch of a button as ASNET gets down to work, consolidating the available resources and identifying new ground.

After sorting out the plan of work at international and national levels, ASNET is planning a counties conference with all agriculture executives so as to align devolved units plans with the national agenda.

Dr Kantaria disclosed plans for a regional outfit that will bring together the five East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda to pursue a cross-border agenda for agriculture development.

ASNET was launched in February this year shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19 in March at a ceremony that brought together more than 400 delegates drawn from the Government, international development partners, businesses and associations who expressed optimism with the one-voice agenda to bridge policy and practice in agriculture sector value chain development.

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