Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday said the government is undertaking measures to ensure that a new generation of farmers emerge to sustain the agricultural sector in the country.
The President said there is need to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector by encouraging the participation of the nation’s youth through technology and innovation.
He said the government’s measures to encourage the youth to take up farming are informed by the fact that the average age of a Kenyan farmer is 59 years while the average age of the consumer is 17 years.
“In order to foster the participation of the youth in agriculture, my government has prioritized the creation and adoption of programmes that ease access to land, financing, mechanization and knowledge among our youth,” the President said.
The Head of State spoke when he opened the 2019 Nairobi International Trade Fair at the Jamhuri Park Showground.
The President said 300 youth have already undergone a rigorous trainer-of-trainers programme in Israel since the year 2016 as part of government’s capacity building programme to empower and encourage the youth to take up farming.
He said the Government has continued to promote access to Agricultural Technical Vocational Education Training (ATVET) learning opportunities under the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme.
“Over the past five years, this initiative has led to the development and approval of more than 44 Competency-Based Curricula for agricultural middle-level colleges in selected key value chains such as dairy, horticulture, poultry, aquaculture and agri-entrepreneurship,” the President noted.
The Head of State said the government is prioritising access to affirmative action funds for youth, women and persons living with disabilities so as to avail the requisite capital needed by these special groups to establish and grow vibrant enterprises in agriculture.
“These and other initiatives are expected to contribute to our position as the gateway to the Eastern and Central Africa Region; through a full-spectrum of Micro, Small, Medium, Large and Mega Enterprises participating in both the traditional and new economies,” the President said.
On the economy, President Kenyatta said Kenya’s economic growth potential is limitless and urged both local and foreign investors to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the improving ease of doing business in the country.
“Join us and reap the rewards of a vibrant economy; characterized by innovation and technology that builds upon a tradition of strong and stable macroeconomic framework as the basis for sustainable current and future growth in agriculture, trade and other economic sectors,” he said.
The Head of State said the agricultural sector remains strong and assured that the government will continue strengthening it by leveraging on established competencies.
“It is our goal to retain and build upon our traditional strengths and advantages in agriculture, horticulture and related fields, so as to have a strong and steady base upon which our economy can continue to be diversified and take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century,” he said.
The President said Kenya, which has a track record of promoting technology and innovation across the full scope of economic activities, will continue to deploy innovations to boost agriculture.
“We are now seeking to embed this tradition of innovation and excellence within the agricultural and trade sectors. The policies, programmes and initiatives that promote innovation and technology in agriculture and trade in Kenya are on show before you today,” the President observed.
As part of efforts to make the agricultural sector more vibrant, the President said Kenyan universities and research institutes are providing leadership in developing new varieties of high yielding and drought-tolerant crops.
He said the recently enacted Warehouse Receipting System law provides an opportunity for investors to construct standardized and accredited facilities to provide storage services to commodity producers and traders.
President Kenyatta said the 2019 to 2029 agricultural transformation and growth strategy being implemented by the government is aimed at increasing small holder farmer incomes through increased production and value addition.
Before his address, the President who was taken on a guided tour of the various exhibition stands, also inspected the ongoing construction of the Jamhuri Park Expo and Conference Centre.
Further, the President presided over the auctioning of livestock where the supreme and reserve supreme champion cross breed bulls each weighing 630 kg from Kenya Seed Company were auctioned at Shs 800,000 each.
The champion boran cow weighing 550 kg also from Kenya Seed was sold at Shs 690,000 while another boran bull from the Agricultural Development Corporation was auctioned at Shs 410,000.
National Chairperson of the Agricultural Society of Kenya Mrs Annabella Kiriinya, Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko and Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri also spoke at the event.
Governor Mbuvi who announced plans to transform Uhuru Market in Nairobi into a textile centre of excellence said his administration is revamping retail markets in the city to empower smallholder traders especially those dealing in agricultural produce.