Players in the agriculture sector have pledged to ensure the sector is transformed to regain its glory as the key driver of Kenya’s economic development.
Under their umbrella agency, the Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET), they said the key agenda would be to ensure that agriculture attracts the recommended 10 per cent of national budgetary allocation and up to 25 per cent credit access from the current 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.
The missing link in tapping the sector’s potential, said Lee Karuri, the chair of the ASNET steering committee, has been a strong united voice that brings everyone on board to lobby for a workable framework, which includes the required budgetary allocation and enhanced credit access for a sector which contributes 65 per cent of export earnings and 52 per cent job creation.
“Agriculture will not be the same again. Kenya produces 40 per cent of its food and imports the balance despite ability to harvest 100 per cent. ASNET seeks to bridge this gap and transform the country into a global agriculture export hub.
“This can only work if we forge strong partnerships as represented by this network,” said Mr Karuri when he handed over the leadership mantle to farm input supplier Elgon Kenya Ltd’s Managing Director, Dr Bimal Kantaria.
Dr Kantaria will head a team of approximately 100 leaders picked from a cross-section of industry players who were inducted last Wednesday and would serve for three years.
Together with his deputy, former Kenya Flower Council CEO Jane Ngige, they will set in motion an envisaged 10-year transformation strategy of the country’s agriculture sector.
“We are happy to announce that we have officially inducted the new board, council, advisors and trustees of ASNET. We have around 100 leaders from the whole agriculture space.
“For the first time, government at national and county levels, development partners, private sector and non-governmental organisations have come together to find a common ground to steer agriculture in the right direction,” Dr Kantaria said.
ASNET board member Chris Wilson, the managing director of Kilifi Plantations, noted that the optimism behind the drive is restoring the good name of Kenya’s agriculture since the country’s coffee, tea, flowers, pyrethrum are the world’s best and through the sector, Kenya can feed Africa.
Arif Neky, the SDG Platform Senior Advisor, said agriculture touches every aspect of the economy and Kenya is headed in the right direction. The sector, he added, is the surest bet to bounce back from the Covid-19 recession.