SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2019 NAIROBI INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR AT JAMHURI PARK SHOWGROUND, NAIROBI ON 2ND OCTOBER, 2019.

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to join you at this year’s Nairobi International Trade Fair.

Your presence here as exhibitors, participants or visitors, I believe is a reflection of the growing interest and support for this premier Trade Fair and Expo, whose origins as we have heard go back to 1901.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I therefore take this opportunity to thank the organizers, sponsors, stakeholders and facilitators of this annual event. Your continued commitment and belief in the value of this event has seen it grow from strength to strength. Indeed this year’s Edition has broken new grounds, having attracted diverse local, regional, continental and global exhibitors from across the world.

With us today are entries from Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Egypt, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, India, Japan, China, Indonesia, France, Turkey, Belgium, Netherlands and the United States among others. This diverse participation is a true fulfilment of this year’s theme of Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and Trade.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The choice of the theme for this Year’s Show is, indeed, timely. We need as a county to modernize our farming practices, if we are to succeed in liberating our people from hunger. Indeed, there is abundant evidence demonstrating that those countries that have conquered hunger, have been able to do so by, in particular, embracing innovation and technology in farming.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is for this reason that my Administration has identified and prioritized Food Security as one of the four pillars of our Big Four Agenda. No nation can claim to be truly developed without secure and affordable, as well as easily accessible high-quality nutritious food supply. In this context, agriculture remains the bedrock of Society; the enabling platform that facilitates all other economic sectors and national gains.

To achieve this Agenda, my Government has formulated the Agricultural Transformation and Growth Strategy that covers the next ten years from 2019 to 2029. The Strategy is focusing on 3 key outcomes, which are:

I. To increase smallholder farmer incomes;

II. To increase production and value addition through agro-processing; and

III. To build Household Resilience to food security and climate change.

Among the measures we are putting in place to achieve these outcomes are:

I. Reforming the fertilizer subsidy programme and replacing it with a smart e-incentive to provide inputs to small holder farmers managed through an e-wallet system and that will involve the private sector;

II. Creating 6 agro-processing hubs across the country to drive value addition; and

III. Creating large scale farms on arable land employing conservation agriculture as well as private sector led irrigation on land owned by Public Institutions.

These measures are designed to increase productivity of smallholder farmers as well as increase production of the most essential food crops through large scale farming.

Even as Kenyans continue to use about 45% of their household budgets on food, the Government recognizes that this is far too high, especially for those who live in our urban areas and are unable to grow their own food.

The measures I have mentioned will spur productivity and increased production, reduce post-harvest losses and value chain inefficiencies; making food more accessible, affordable and of higher quality.

We remain committed to working with stakeholders, especially County Governments and the private sector, to implement transformative programmes and projects in these areas.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With a strong and vibrant agricultural sector, our Nation is able to create a dynamic manufacturing and trade environment that encompasses the full range of goods and services.

It is our goal to retain and build on our traditional strengths and advantages in Agriculture, Horticulture and related fields, so as to have the strong and steady base upon which our Economy can continue to be diversified and take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st Century.

This mix between our historical areas of strength and excellence, on the one hand, and our making inroads into areas of the new economy, on the other, is a vital part of my Administration’s vision of a more prosperous, equitable and better Kenya for All. Each and every person here today is a vital cog in achieving that national endeavour.

Kenya has a demonstrable track-record of promoting Technology and Innovation across the full-scope of economic activities.

We are now seeking to embed this tradition of innovation and excellence within the Agricultural and Trade Sectors. The Policies, Programmes and Initiatives that promote Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and Trade in Kenya are on show here today.

In that regard, I will highlight three important areas in which we are leveraging on Innovation and Technology to boost Agriculture and Trade.

Firstly, our Universities and Research Institutions, that are providing leadership in developing new varieties of high-yield drought tolerant crops that are able to prosper in a variety of climatic conditions while at the same time exhibiting a high-degree of pest and disease resilience.

We project that these advances in bio-technology, achieved without compromising the natural state of our ecosystems, will boost our Agricultural output and Food Security.

Secondly, we have endeavored to strengthen quality and safety standards to ensure that our agricultural products meet the highest international standards.

In regions like Europe and China where our products faced quality challenges, mechanisms have already been put in place to address these. Indeed, we now have the National Horticulture Traceability System in place, and a Livestock Identification and Traceability system that is currently being developed.

Third, my Government continues to support and encourage more private sector investment especially in post-harvest handling and market distribution infrastructure.

In June of this year, I assented to the Warehouse Receipting System Act, an intervention that will provide an opportunity for investors to construct standardized and accredited stores and warehouses to provide storage services to commodity producers and traders.

This will ensure that we meet our target to reduce post-harvest losses, associated with storage challenges, by over 50% by the year 2022.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Apart from the logistical benefits of the new warehousing system, users of the facilities will also be able to use receipts offered by the warehouses to access credit facilities and loans to carry out their farming activities, even as they wait for market prices for their produce to improve.

In addition, well-managed warehouses will guarantee that our millers will be assured of access to improved grain quality for milling. The warehousing system is expected to enhance price discovery for farmers in a secondary trading market through the Kenya Multi-Commodity Exchange.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A critical aspect of this is the realization that each and every Kenyan Citizen and Kenyan Tax Resident Person must pay their full and fair share of taxes.

The infrastructure and enabling environment that yields Kenya’s competitive advantages in Agriculture, Trade and Investment, are driven by investment by Government in physical infrastructure like roads, rails, ports just to mention but a few.

This can only be achieved by the creation of a broad tax base, which in turn is created by each and every one of us contributing to the collective pool of tax revenues.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is important to note that the average age of the Kenyan farmer is 59 years old, while the average age of the Kenyan consumer is 17 years old.

To bridge this gap, my Government has put in place a multitude of measures, to ensure that a new generation of farmers emerges to sustain the agricultural enterprise in our country.

In order to foster the participation of the Youth in agriculture, my Government has prioritized the creation and adoption of programmes that ease access to land, financing, mechanization and knowledge among our Youth.

An example of this is the capacity building programme that we agreed with the Government of Israel that has seen 300 of our youth undergo a rigorous trainer-of-trainers programme since the year 2016.

Furthermore, my Government has continued to promote access to Agricultural Technical Vocational Education Training (ATVET) learning opportunities under the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme.

Over the past five years, this initiative has led to the development and approval of more than 44 Competency Based Curricula for agricultural middle-level colleges in selected key value chains such as Dairy, Horticulture, Poultry, Aquaculture and Agri-entrepreneurship.

These Agriculture, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (ATVETs) colleges include: Bukura Agricultural College in Kakamega, Dairy Training Institute in Naivasha, Kenya School of Agriculture in Nyeri, RIAT institute in Kisumu among others. Their training focuses on skills development through practical exposure.

The Government is also prioritizing access to affirmative action funds for Youth, Women and Persons Living with Disabilities. The Funds provide the Youth, Women and Persons Living with Disabilities with the requisite investment and working capital to establish and grow vibrant enterprises in Agriculture and Trade.

These and other initiatives are expected to contribute to our position as the gateway to the Eastern and Central Africa Region; through a full-spectrum of Micro, Small, Medium, Large and Mega Enterprises participating in both the traditional and new economies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Trade Fairs such as this showcase both Kenya’s current excellence as well as our future potential, showing both local and international businesses, investors and consumers what our country has to offer.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and Trade is part and parcel of the daily Kenyan reality in both Agriculture and Trade, and I urge local and international investors, business persons and consumers to take advantage of the Plenty within Our Borders and to partner with us in creating an even more prosperous Nation.

Our potential is limitless, the opportunities many and our commitment to excellence and success is immeasurable.

Let us join together reap the rewards of a vibrant economy; characterized by Innovation, Technology and Integrity that builds upon a tradition of strong and stable macroeconomic framework as the basis for sustainable current and future growth in Agriculture, Trade and other economic sectors.

As you tour the exhibitions and sample the vast array of goods and services on offer, you will no doubt be impressed, as I have, with just how strong, broad and dynamic our Agricultural and Trade Sectors, are.

To that end, I thank every Kenyan, as well as every player, both in the Private and Public Sectors, for all that you have done in making our economy one of the fastest growing in the world, and one of the easiest to do business in.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I conclude, I once again wish to recognize and congratulate the entire Agricultural Society of Kenya fraternity, Event Organizers, Exhibitors, Stakeholders and participants for a well-organized Show.

As always, the Nairobi International Trade Fair remains the diamond standard for Trade Fairs and Exhibitions in Africa and beyond.

In that vein, it is now my great pleasure and humble duty to declare the 2019 Nairobi International Trade Fair officially open.

Source: The President (Latest News)