Greenpeace Africa has expressed its hope for more accountability and transparency in the agriculture sector.
This comes in the wake of the recent cabinet reshuffle by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
According to the Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Political Advisor, Fredrick Njehu the appointment of Hon. John Munya as the new cabinet secretary in charge of Agriculture, Livestock, and Cooperatives replacing the outgoing CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, is a decision that should bring hope to the millions of smallholder farmers in the country. This is a sector whose potential remains largely untapped.
“Hon. Munya is credited for stimulating the growth potential of Meru County during his tenure as the governor. He had an eye for the agriculture sector while at the helm of Meru county.” Said Mr Njehu.
According to the advisor, currently, Kenya’s agriculture sector is grappling with a myriad of challenges including low prices of agricultural goods, increased cost of production and lack of affordable credit that can boost production.
The use of toxic chemicals in food production, dumping of cheap agricultural products and lack of coordination between national and county government institutions are some of the major challenges facing the sector.
“Hon. Munya’s appointment to the Ministry should enlist priorities that can transform the agriculture sector as a big 4 item in the current administration’s agenda in a more accountable and transparent manner. Greenpeace Africa calls for decisive action, and for Hon. Munya to ensure that smallholder farmers are at the center of key decisions being made in the agriculture sector.” He added.
According to export.gov, a site that helps U.S. companies to export, Agriculture dominates the Kenyan economy, accounting for 70 per cent of the workforce and about 25 per cent of the annual GDP. The country’s major agricultural exports are tea, coffee, cut-flowers, and vegetables. Kenya is the world’s leading exporter of black tea and cut-flowers.
Kenya’s high rainfall areas constitute about 10 per cent of Kenya’s arable land, and produce 70 per cent of national commercial agricultural output. Farmers in semi-arid regions produce about 20 per cent of the output while the arid regions account for the remaining ten per cent of the output. Productivity remains relatively low in all the regions due to poor incentives, and underdeveloped supporting infrastructure and institutions. Since 2013, Kenya has been undertaking agricultural sector reforms that are expected to spur growth. A new regulatory framework, arising from the consolidation and harmonization of the sectoral laws is under implementation.
Although Kenya perennially faces supply deficits in most of its food sectors, the country continues to use instruments under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) agreements to limit food imports. Both agreements provide for high non-member tariffs on sensitive commodities including meat, dairy poultry, maize, rice, wheat, and beans. Elements of subsidy still exist especially in the seed and fertilizer systems.