By Mr. Charles Mbuthia (Head of Corporate Affairs Division)
Agricultural Council of Kenya (AgCK) in partnership with the Agricultural Industry Network (AIN) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held a one day national conference dubbed ‘National Dialogue on Agricultural Policy Framework’. The objective of the conference was to discuss the status of the Agriculture Policy Framework in Kenya, and share experiences in policy implementation. The conference was held on 10th December, 2019 at Silver Springs Hotel in Nairobi. It was attended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, the county governments, private sector and civil society organizations.
A policy provides the basis for development strategies, plans, projects and programmes. The Draft Kenya Agricultural Policy framework, themed ‘Food: Our Health Our Security’, has been in the pipeline for the last one decade. The national legislations, strategies and respective county level agricultural policies are expected to conform to the Agricultural Policy. The Constitution of Kenya (2010), affirms the right of every person to be free from hunger and to have food of acceptable quality. Agriculture forms the basis of food production and significantly contributes to the growth of the national economy. The 4th schedule of the constitution provides for the Agricultural policy as a function of the National Government and devolves key components of agriculture including crop and animal husbandry, plant and animal disease control and fisheries to the county governments.
The draft agricultural policy acknowledges the sector challenges; – a steady reduction of agricultural land; low agricultural production and productivity; poor marketing, market uncertainties and low value addition to agricultural products; high post-harvest losses and unfavorable taxation and tax regimes. Other key challenges are ineffective and inefficient inter-sectoral linkages for development of agriculture; high cost of credit for investment in agriculture; poor governance in farmer organizations and farmer cooperatives; fewer adherences to demand-driven research for agricultural development; ineffective research-extension-farmer linkages and inadequate insurance facilities to cushion farmers and fisher folk from production uncertainties.
The Agricultural Policy undertakes to address the identified challenges in the Agricultural Sector by providing guidelines to the national and County Governments towards ensuring household and national food and nutrition security; increasing agricultural production and productivity through the use of appropriate good quality and affordable inputs; facilitating access to premium domestic, regional and international markets and reducing post-harvest losses while promoting agribusiness, value addition and product development.
The importance of the Agricultural policy cannot be overstated. It is important for the National government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives to fast truck the finalization and gazettement of the policy with a view to giving the County governments the appropriate policy guidelines for the sector growth and transformation.