Agriculture Sector to get around Sh. 20 billion for various projects in this year’s Budget

The Government has set aside around Sh.20 billion in this year’s 2018/19 financial year to finance various projects geared towards enhancing food and nutrition security.

Presenting the FY 2018/19 Budget Statement on Wednesday afternoon to the August House, Treasury Cabinet Secretary (CS), Henry Rotich allocated a total of Sh.8.5 billion for ongoing irrigation projects to reduce the vulnerability to drought and put additional land under crop production.

The ongoing irrigation projects are in Bura and Mwea while the National Expanded Irrigation Programme and Smallholder Irrigation Programme are in Galana Kulalu, Turkana and micro irrigation in schools.

The severe drought that was experienced last year underscores the importance of the country’s reduction of reliance on rain fed agriculture

Rotich said the government would continue to further improve accessibility of fertilizer and crop insurance and has set aside Sh4.3 billion for subsidize fertilizer and Sh300 million to support crop insurance schemes so as to cushion farmers against climate related risks.

On subsidized fertilizer, I expect the Ministry of Agriculture to reform the supply chain systems and ensure better service to farmers with the ongoing registration of farmers, he emphasized.

Speaking on phone, the Chief Administration Officer (CAS) in the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry, Andrew Tuimur confirmed that the ministry would next commence the recruitment of enumerators to be engaged in the farmers registration exercise.

Rotich also allocated Sh.300 million for fall army worm mitigation, after the Fall Armyworm which was first reported in Western Kenya by farmers in March 2017 affecting and destroying over 800, 000 hectares of crops mainly maize.

The CS went ahead and allocated Sh.2.0 billion to enhance food and nutrition security and modernize agriculture as well as S.4 billion for the strategic food reserves.

We will also support smallholder farmers by up scaling crop and livestock insurance and promoting use of appropriate farming techniques, in addition to availing affordable credit facilities, he said noting that S.9 billion would go to the Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme, Sh0.5 billion for mechanization of agriculture, and Sh0.9 billion for crop diversification.

On Food and Nutrition Security, the CS said the government plans to grow enough food to feed people at affordable prices but said that achieving this would also require enhancing large-scale production by placing an additional 700,000 acres of land Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The government would further promote investments in post-harvest handling as well as adopting contract farming and other commercial off-taking arrangements, including supporting the development of agro hubs to serve as a link to farmers and markets.

Rotich explained that during last year’s budget speech, he proposed to exempt VAT materials for the construction of grain storage facilities to support safe storage of food and ensure sustained food security in the country.

In this budget, I propose to expand this exemption to include equipment used in the construction of the facilities in order to lower the cost of post-harvest storage and this will go a long way in supporting the food security pillar under The Big Four Plan, Rotich said.

While animal feeds were exempt from VAT, the CS said some of the raw materials used in their manufacture were taxable and this treatment has led to high prices of animal feeds.

In order to make animal feeds affordable to farmers and attract more manufacturers to invest in the sector, the CS proposed to exempt the raw materials from VAT.

During the budget reading that took around two hours, Rotich said the country has come a long way since 2013 as there were numerous constrains to economic growth and the challenge of rolling out the devolved system of government but noted that the new designed and implementation of an economic transformation plan under the big four agenda would deliver results to Kenyans.

Source: Kenya News Agency