As the entire nation watches one of the most important weeks unfold, farmers hope for much needed change. The general election in Kenya allows for citizens to select their leaders and in turn implement plans. The unique relationship between farmers and the government has been a bittersweet one with its ups and downs.
However, this year, a few select points were highlighted by farmers. Firstly, coming off the backdrop of a devastating drought due to climate change has weighed heavily on farmers. As such, there has been request for government assistance as farmer’s clench on to the little they still have.
Agriculture as a sector contributes to 65 percent of national exports and 70 percent of employment in rural areas. In addition, farming and agriculture contribute to the livelihood of 85 percent.
Promises around subsidies on farm inputs, seeds, fertilizers and chemicals have been made but farmers remain skeptical.
One Mungai Njoroge, a farmer from Limiru speaks on the origin of his worries; “When certain politicians are looking for our votes, they brought in agriculture officers to explore our fields. But once they get into their posts, we rarely see the ‘hands-on’ engagement”.
“Projects such as dams, irrigation schemes are always part of their promises but we rarely see them actualized” he added.
Food security is National security
Another key point that comes into question in the agriculture sector during this election period is food security. The Right to Food Coalition is a lobby group that launched the food manifesto with policy proposals for political parties and leaders to take in.
Elizabeth Kimani-Murage is a senior research scientist and leader of the nutrition and food systems with the African Population and Health Research Center.
“It is our belief that political leaders need to include the agenda of food in their political manifestos and put in place mechanisms to make them work.”
She concluded by saying without food security there cannot be national security.