resident’s speech at-Mombasa International Show August 29, 2014

By Uhuru Kenyatta
Distinguished Guests,
Fellow Kenyans,
It is a great pleasure to join you all today, at the opening of this year’s show.

For all the advances of recent years, agriculture remains at the heart of this country’s affairs.  In line with Vision 2030, we have come to see the enormous potential of commercialized agriculture.
My Government is therefore keen to promote competitive, commercially oriented agriculture, with the most modern and efficient technology we can find.  A second core aim of my Government, in whose pursuit we are working with our development partners and our private sector, is to attain food security and sustainable land management.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The reasons for these choices are clear. No country has made major strides in economic development without securing its people’s food.
No country has advanced without improving the productivity of its lands.  Our commitment to development means that we must commit to the most basic requirements of our citizens.  That is why we allocated the Ministry of AgricultureKShs. 37 billion in the 2014/2015 budget for boosting food production.  These funds go to key flagship projects including irrigation, input subsidies, fisheries management and development of disease-free zones for livestock development.
My Government has also allocated KShs. 2.6 billion this financial year, to enhance and diversify the Strategic Food Reserve.  In addition, the Government will continue with the input subsidy scheme, the better to cushion farmers against high input prices and promote crop production.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The food security we seek will also be helped by reductions in the costs of the inputs that farmers need.  In the last financial year, 173,000 MT of assorted fertilizers worth over KShs 7 billion was procured and distributed.
In the current financial year, my Government has allocated KShs. 3 billion for fertilizer and seed.   This goes hand in hand with our medium-term plan which, as we indicated a while ago, was to establish a fertilizer manufacturing plant in the country.  The Government identified a private investor in Toyota Tsusho, who took on the project. We expect the first batch of fertilizer in 2016.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Though the greater proportion of our country is arid and semi-arid, the irrigation potential of these lands has been under-exploited.  My Government, therefore,made irrigation a national priority.  Under the Expanded National Irrigation Programme we shall rehabilitate and expand national irrigation schemes by54,320 acres across the country.  By 2017, we aim to have a million acres under irrigation.  This year, Kshs 9.5 billion shillings was allocated to these ends, 3.5 billion of which will go to the Galana/Kulalu project in Tana River County.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Horticulture remains one of our most significant agricultural sub-sectors — last year,the value of horticultural produce reached KSh.177 billion, of which 95 billionwas exported.  In recent years, however, challenges have emerged, among them legislative and other hindrances in our export destinations.  My Government will continue to enforce compliance and endeavour to nurture and protect our export markets.
Tea growing is no less vital: it earned us KShs 114.4 billion in foreign exchange in2013, and supports up to 10% of our people.  To unlock the full potential of the industry, my Government is finalizing the National Tea Industry Policy, in consultation with a range of interested parties.
Coffee production accounts for up to 8% of our total agricultural export earnings and supports about 700,000 families.  In recent years, however, there has been a decline in production, which now stands at 50,000 Metric tonnes.
Poor management, price volatility, and other challenges are to blame.  We still expect coffee to earn the country about KShs. 19.5 Billion this year, but it is clear that we must do more, and quickly.  As an initial step, we have introduced fertilizer subsidies for coffee and streamlined the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) through the review of the Coffee Trading Rules and appointment of the NCE Committee.  More complete re-organization of the sector will follow soon.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Time and again, research has shown that oil and nut crops have huge potential to contribute to growth in the coastal region.  Coconut has the potential to contribute up to KShs. 25 billion annually.  Little of that potential has been realized — a matter that should dismay us even more when we remember that a take-off in coconut production would sharply reduce the importation of crude edible oils and fats.  The commercialization of coconut and coconut products is imperative, especially for this region. Mine is to challenge those concerned with making policy to put in place immediate measures to unlock the potential in the coconut industry.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Livestock remain important right across Kenyan communities.  The subsector contributes to the food and cash needs of many farmers, and provides employment to about 10 million people. The country’s dairy cattle are estimated at 4.2 millionhead.  In 2013, milk production was estimated at 5.2 billion litres valued atKshs. 114.4 billion.

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