Mithika Linturi's Agriculture plan for Kenyans as he tackles GMO topic

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary nominee Mithika Linturi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) nominee Mithika Linturi has revealed his plans for the crucial docket as he prepares to formally take office if approved by Parliament.

Top of his agenda, include a favourable agricultural environment, policies and food security.

During his vetting by MPs on Friday, October 21, the CS nominee said he'll digitise the Kenyan farmers' database to allow for resource-sharing and the management of the agricultural subsidies programme.

The former Meru Senator said the Agriculture ministry would set up food reserves at the county level to allow for effective emergency response.

"The farmers' database will allow the government to effectively distribute subsidised material based on the respective farmers' needs," said Linturi.

"To increase productivity and value, we will go out of our way to educate our farmers on what type of crops are best suited for their climate. With the right information, farmers won't, for instance, plant barley in an area that requires them to plant rice," added Linturi.

The Agriculture CS designate further said that he'll make efforts to revive the discontinued Galana Kulalu food security project.

According to Linturi, the Galana Kulalu project collapsed because it did not offer sufficient returns on investment.

"The project was condemned because the first harvest was seen not to match the initial investment."

On the dicey GMO topic, he said he supports the government's decision to lift the ban that had been in existence for ten years, saying food security is a matter that the Kenya Kwanza administration is passionate about.

"We have to make choices on whether to let our people die or adopt GMOs. I have not seen any scientific evidence suggesting GMOs is harmful to human beings. We'll be guided by the World Health Organization's guidelines. Products will be properly labelled as GMO or non-GMO," said the CS nominee.

On drought mitigation plans, Linturi said food relief programmes would serve short-term needs, but for the long term, the government will commit more land to agriculture.

With more land brought under crop productivity, Linturi said even domestic animals would have adequate pasture.

Linturi said he'll fearlessly tackle cartels in the agriculture sector, who he accused of intercepting subsidised material, including fertilisers, and, thereafter, selling them at exorbitant prices.

According to the CS nominee, the cartels that he is targeting are also in the dairy sector.

Linturi reiterated President William Ruto's remarks on the need to improve agro-processing, saying value addition would allow Kenyan farmers to earn more from their commercial crops.

The CS nominee encouraged the youth to embrace agriculture, saying it boosts Kenya's ability to be food secure and also offers many employment opportunities.

Linturi also said his ministry would support the fishing sector by making available the right fingerling species to fish farmers countrywide at affordable prices.