The African Center for Economic Transformation has launched its agriculture chapter and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will serve as its champion towards enabling other chapter members realize their goals of furthering the development of agriculture in their countries.
Addressing the participants during the official launch on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary, the Ministry’s Principal Secretary Prof. Japhet Micheni Ntiba termed agriculture as a critical sector for the country and can contribute greatly to economic transformation, just like it has done in the developed world. According to Prof. Ntiba, the sector is key driver to a food secure nation and general socio-economic development of population especially the rural economies.
The significance of agriculture in Kenya is well articulated in her National development blueprint (Vision 2030). “Overall, the agriculture sector contributes to 30 percent directly to the GDP and 25 percent indirectly. The sector employs 40 percent of the total labor force in the country and over 70 percent of the rural population, supplies raw material to the manufacturing sector and generates tax revenue as well as as the foreign exchange that support other economies,” he said.
Agriculture makes up the bulk of many African economies. Majority of the poor practice subsistence farming for their livelihoods and Africa’s economic transformation has to include modernization of the sector to increase productivity of the smallholders. Use of agriculture as a basis for manufacturing and services and increasing agro-processing and other agribusinesses in particular will create jobs, especially for women and the youth as well as increasing the demand (and prices) for what smallholders produce.
Although Kenya’s agricultural sector development strategy provides for agriculture growth of 7 percent and the contribution of agriculture to poverty alleviation by 30 percent, the country still faces several challenges including being food insecure, use of archaic and unsustainable production methods, ageing farmer population, implementation of devolved system of governance, inadequately structured and focused monitoring and evaluation system, low demand for agriculture and related activities by the youth, low levels of innovation and limited financial sources.
Kenya is endowed with enormous opportunities for transformation has vast physical and skilled human resources especially the youth that remain largely unexploited. “For transformation to effectively take place, the youth must be actively involved in agriculture and the agricultural technologies already existing should be tapped and applied in the country’s ecosystem,” the PS said.
The launch was organized by The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), the Kenya Agribusiness and Agroindustry Alliance (KAAA) and KenInvest.