By now, you are probably familiar with the Bottom-Up economic transformation agenda of the Kenya Kwanza Coalition led by the current President-elect Dr William Samoei Ruto.
To paint a picture, the bottom-up economic model operates from the premise that the local community, with strategic tools and incentives, has the capacity to actively participate in their development journey – setting clear goals with targeted plans on how to achieve the said goals. This approach is highly acclaimed for its ability to foster community ownership, innovation and commitment toward gradual development from below. While this sounds very promising, it is not unusual to wonder how the Ruto Government will use “bottom-up” to revamp the Kenyan Agriculture sector.
The current economy in Kenya is admittedly on a dramatic decline. This financial crisis has left most low and middle-income earners vulnerable. This is especially true for rural communities that farm for a living. The high costs of farm inputs such as fertilizer and seeds have near-crippled agricultural production in rural areas. Yet, Kenya Kwanza has an open commitment to spend Ksh. 250 billion within its first governing term to reform Agriculture and food security as the leading agenda.
This article unfolds the Ruto Government’s plans to transform our farming sector.
Farmer organizations and cooperatives largely contribute to the overall agriculture production amongst most smallholder farmers in Kenya. There are, however, rising concerns on whether these agricultural societies have the farmers’ best interests at heart. According to research conducted by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), most of the current organizations and out-grower institutions have failed to deliver economic justice to small-scale farmers. Corruption and conflict of interest are among the leading factors that continue to derail the system.
Nonetheless, Kenya Kwanza firmly maintains that well-managed farmer organizations could be a powerful means through which the Kenyan agriculture sector is sustainably revived. This is why Ruto’s government intends to provide adequate affordable working capital to farmers across the country through well-organized farmer cooperatives. This approach is believed to foster membership participation where the members and the cooperatives mutually benefit resulting in subsequent economic growth.
Risk Management Tools
The historical overview of Kenya’s Agricultural insurance system offers valuable insights that governing policies can use to establish a working insurance scheme for the modern-day farmer. The Guaranteed Minimum Returns (GMR) scheme, in particular, will be used by Kenya Kwanza as a benchmark by which agricultural insurance, as a risk management tool for farmers, is evaluated.
The GMR scheme was first established in 1942 by the colonial government to cover specific crops. The program ran successfully for 36 years until 1978 when it was disbanded owing to mismanagement factors. Ruto’s government would employ GMR’s concept to ensure farming is profitable with predictable income.
Other risk management tools in agriculture apart from insurance, that you should look out for in the incoming government include commodity marketing instruments like forwarding and futures contracts and price stabilization schemes.
From Deficit to Surplus
One of the principal barriers to food production in Kenya is the lack of sufficient public expenditure in the sector. According to FAO, Kenya does not meet AU’s commitment standards on government investment in agriculture. Our government generally spends less on food production as compared to our immediate neighbours.
Kenya Kwanza, thus, intends to re-orient its public expenditure rates to invest heavily in agriculture. Their goal is to transform the lives of two million poor farmers by turning their farming business from deficit to surplus through financial input with guaranteed extension services. In the end, every farmer should be able to generate Ksh. 50000 revenue per acre.
Key Value Food Chains
The Ruto government will also implement an innovative strategy to ensure food security in Kenya: raising the productivity of key-value food chains in the country. These include agricultural products like maize, beef and milk.
This approach will positively impact food security in Kenya because it will ensure our growing demand for food is sufficiently met. The income of poor small-scale farmers will also improve once their productivity rate is increased. The target is to have maize produced at 15 bags an acre from 8, milk from 2.5l. – 7.5 l. per cow and beef carcass weighed 150kg from 110kg.
Imports Versus Exports
In one of our recent articles, ‘Food Security in Kenya: Do We Import More Food than We Produce Locally?’, we discuss how while Agriculture is the dominating factor in the Kenyan economy, food production remains significantly low due to the high population rise, lack of incentives like funding, and poor infrastructure hence the need for food imports
The Ruto government seeks to reduce dependence on basic food imports by 30%. Kenya Kwanza also has a commitment to upgrading underperforming and collapsed export crops while tapping into the newly emerging export crops. Examples of these crops include coffee, cashew nuts, pyrethrum, avocado, and macadamia nuts.
Tea Value Chain
Various actions and strategies can create value on a commodity for customers resulting in a competitive advantage. This phenomenon is referred to as the value chain concept. A value chain analysis, when applied to the food industry, offers remarkable results. Value creation in the agri-food industry increases the market demand for the products hence benefiting both the producer and the consumer.
Ruto’s tenure will intentionally focus on tea, our leading export, to boost its value chain through blending and branding. It is believed that this technique will rapidly expand the export capacity of the Kenyan tea industry resulting in increased revenue in that area.
In a Nutshell
Electing a fully functioning government utterly devoid of slack and negligence is every Kenyan’s dream. You want a solid assurance that your general standards of living will be improved once your candidate takes office. And one way in which the strength and effectiveness of a government are measured is through the country’s economic growth and development. Ruto intends to grow Kenya’s economy by focusing on the country’s backbone – agriculture!
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