Trips abroad got us markets, says President Kenyatta

Thursday March 16 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament, Nairobi, on March 15, 2017.  PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament, Nairobi, on March 15, 2017. PHOTO | PSCU   

By JULIUS SIGEI
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The President said his trips abroad had secured markets and expertise for farmers and cited India, France and Israel as some of the countries which had boosted agribusiness.

“This allowed us to give the farmers in semi-arid areas like Embu, Kitui, Mwingi and Makueni and Tharaka a ready Indian market of one billion people to which they can export beans, lentils and peas,” he said.

He said by traveling to France, he secured funding for major water projects.

He said Kenya’s collaboration with Israel includes access to cutting-edge agricultural expertise and technology “that can allow us to transform our agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas.”

President Kenyatta also dwelt on the drought ravaging parts of the country, saying it had adversely affected a significant portion of the population.

FLAGSHIP PROJECTS

But he did not talk about the Jubilee Government flagship projects meant to spur food production.

Instead, President Uhuru Kenyatta spread his messages on agriculture throughout his speech, saying the expanded road network had boosted agribusiness.

The government had pledged to put one million acres under irrigation in five years with Galana-Kulalu in Tana River and Kilifi counties being the main project.

President Kenyatta said farmers were the main beneficiaries of the “most aggressive road construction programme ever seen in Kenya” with 1,950 kilometres of new roads completed, and another 7,000 kilometres under different phases of construction.

“In Taveta, banana farmers in Kimundia and Mboghoni can now get their produce to markets in Mombasa in less than four hours as the Mwatate-Taveta Road nears completion,” said the President.

FINANCIAL INCENTIVES

He added that special financial incentives to support the role of the youth as the drivers of innovation had boosted agribusiness.

“After four years, Sh11 billion has been accessed by close to a million young Kenyans. We celebrate the success of the Youth Fund through the stories of young Kenyans,” he said.

But he lamented the unintended consequence of the capping of interest rates which had led to a slow-down in lending by commercial banks.

President Kenyatta also dwelt on the drought currently ravaging parts of the country, saying it had affected a significant population.