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Heavy investment in agriculture makes Kenya food secure: official

16 August 2016, 20:34

Nairobi (Xinhua) -- Kenya said on Monday that heavy investments in agriculture have helped transform the sector, making the East African nation food sufficient.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said the investment had also increased income along the value chain and has helped create jobs and enhanced value addition and agro-processing.

"Kenya is now food-secure and we are working to make the country self-sufficient in food," Bett said during the Agricultural Summit organized by State House in Nairobi.

He said the transformation of the agricultural sector through mechanization and technology had brought competition and efficiency, attracting young people into farming.

Bett pointed to the wider agenda, saying that for Africa to transform its agriculture, mechanization was a necessity.

He said the government is especially concentrating on mechanization and automation, explaining that reports indicate most Kenyans are still using outdated technology.

"There will be a plan on how technology transfer will be done so that we make it cool for young people," Bett said.

He also said the government has also started implementing interventions in the livestock production sector.

The government has also set up 18 new livestock marketing yards, a number of fodder banks as well as water pans and dams. He also said Livestock Marketing Board would be operationalized, to give required service to farmers.

He said a number of cooling facilities had been put up and before the end of this year, there would be 990 of them in the country.

The CS said since 2013 the Government had spent more than 256 million U.S. dollars on the fertilizer subsidy program which now reaches 1.5 million farmers every planting season.

He said the government wants to continue expanding the project until all farmers are covered. In the areas covered, Bett said, maize production had grown from about 35 million bags to 42 million bags annually, and the cost of production fallen by 40 percent, from 28 dollars to 18 dollars per bag.

Bett said the subsidized fertilizer program will soon be expanded to cover other crops such as sugar, coffee and tea.

Bett said the ministry has targeted production and elimination of illegal marine resource activities in the country's water bodies, noting that the ministry wants to have more diversified marine activities and deep sea fishing.

He pointed out that since 2013, aquaculture production doubled from 23,502 to 48,000 metric tonnes annually.

Bett pointed out that investing in agriculture is the most effective way to end hunger, improve nutrition and drive economic opportunities for African countries.

He said growth in the agricultural sector in sub-Saharan Africa is 11 times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in any other sector.

- Xinhua


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