The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has agreed to provide a $37.7 million (S.8 billion) loan to fund key agricultural programs in the country.
The funds will be used to boost the ongoing smallholder dairy commercial program which will receive $17 million (Sh1.7 billion) while $20.66 million (Sh2.1 billion) will support the fisheries sub-sector through acquaculture development.
IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze said funding for the two programs will be approved by his organization’s next board meeting in December.
Mr Nwanze was speaking on Thursday during a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi. The meeting reviewed the progress of IFAD-supported programs and projects in the country.
President Kenyatta welcomed the support by IFAD and emphasised the need to focus on projects that will make agriculture more attractive to the youth.
“Agriculture has the potential of creating the much needed jobs for our youth. We have to put up projects that will attract the youth to venture into commercial agriculture as a source of their livelihood,” President Kenyatta said.
According to Agricultures Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki, who attended the meeting, the approval of additional funding to Kenya by IFAD follows the successful implementation of programs in the country.
The Agriculture Principal Secretary cited the Smallholder horticulture Marketing Program, which ended June 2015 as one of the successes of the Government-IFAD partnership.
She said the program addressed inefficiencies in input and produce marketing and minimised produce loss associated with transport and handling.
“The program benefitted 152,304 farmers, 547 Kilometres of rural access roads were improved and 28 horticultural markets were constructed in nine counties – Bungoma, Kisii, Kericho, Bomet, Nandi, Embu, Meru, Nyandarua and Tharaka-Nithi,” Mrs Kariuki said.
Ms Kariuki said IFAD also played a key role in the funding of the $35.5 Kenya Cereals Enhancement Programme (KCEP) which started in 2014 and is set to end in 2017.
Livestock Principal Secretary Fred Segor said 277,480 dairy farmers from the nine high dairy producing counties of Nakuru, Bungoma, Bomet, Kakamega, Nyamira, Kisii, Nandi, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu benefitted from the $19.75 million IFAD-funded Smallholder Dairy Commercial Program (SDCP). The program, which started in July 2006, ended in September this year.
“Under this program, we managed to create 20,615 jobs through collective milk marketing,” Prof. Segor said.
Fisheries Principal Secretary Micheni Ntiba said the support by IFAD to the fisheries sub-sector through the proposed acquaculture development would help create more jobs for the youth.
He said Kenya and IFAD can work together to enhance trout development by supporting women and youth-based production systems that are operating in Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Mt Elgon, Mau Summit, Nandi Hills and upper areas of Kericho county.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY