An upsurge in population in the cities and the changing dietary inclinations have necessitated increased investment in agriculture.
It is, therefore, prudent that the government ensure that the agricultural sector is adequately funded to boost production.
Despite previous international conventions such as Maputo Declaration to increase by six per cent in agricultural funding annually, the country is still at a 3.5 per cent budget for the farming sector in the 2018/2019 financial year.
Efforts should be quickly made in an agricultural policy to ensure that the nation can feed itself first, before feeding the market.
This will require institutional reforms in agriculture. The Route to Food Initiative, a non-government organization, sought to have action taken in effort to achieve food security.
Through the initiative, which had specialists in finance and policy analysis comprehensively interrogate the 2018/2019 Budget from a right to food perspective.
Mr Alexander Owino, a financial consultant and banking sector specialist says: “There is a need to have measures such as reforming the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and establishing the Kenya Development Bank (KDB) to assist farmers to get quicker and cheaper loans.
Financing will enable farmers to perform better by investment in inputs and best practice. There should be an allocation of up to 50 per cent of the Conditional Cash Transfers to the county governments, which is backed up by the right to food enshrined in the 2010 Constitution.
There ought to be a wide range of investment projects in the infrastructure segment. This will entail excellent warehouse, transport, communication and market access that ought to be established to help in keeping the produce safe and fresh.
Additionally, there ought to be a reduction in post-harvest losses that the farmers experience as they take their produce from the farms to the market. Another measure that needs to be taken in the agricultural sector, is the inclusion of the small holder farmers in every financial process in the sector.
The director of the East Africa Institute at Aga Khan University, Dr Alex Awiti, said: “Farmers need to be offered a market guarantee for their crops and produce. There is also need for incentives that would encourage farmers to continue with their farm practices all through. This can be achieved through subsidy allocations for fertilizers, seeds and other farm inputs.”
Going forth, budgetary allocations in the agricultural sector should meet the desires of smallholder farmers.
Read more in edition 40 of Smartfarmer Magazine