OUR FARMS AND OUR FARMERS FIRST:
The Rt Hon Raila Odinga joined his NASA co-principals H. E Kalonzo Musyoka, Sen Moses Wetangula and Hon Musalia Mudavadi for a public rally in Eldoret 64 Stadium in Uasin Gishu County.
The ODM Leader expressed his gratitude to the Kalenjin nation for the overwhelming support they gave in 2007. He indicated that he did his best to reciprocate; first by appointing sons and daughters of the community to the strongest ministries ODM got like Agriculture (William Ruto and Sally Kosgei later), Roads (Kipkalya Kones and later Franklin Bett), Industrialization (Henry Kosgey), Higher Education (Hellen Sambili) among a host of assistant ministers.
As a Grand Coalition, I ensured we paid attention to the economic wellbeing of the community and things worked for them.
Today, a 90kg bag of maize sold Sh3,200. Under Jubilee, it fell to Sh2,800. It is only now that it is rising marginally to Sh3,000 again because of the drought and famine. NCPB is refusing to buy at Sh3400 yet they want to import maize.
For the last 5 years, maize farmers have posted dismal harvests because of Maize Leaf Necrosis disease. There has been no serious effort to address this problem. At the beginning of 2014, maize production in Rift Valley declined from 22 million bags in 2012 last to 17 million bags.
The use of poor quality of subsidized fertilizers has also contributed to the problem.
Cheap imports have stood in the farmers’ way to benefiting from their produce.
Farmers lack technical advice on good agricultural practices and crop husbandry because the government withdrew agricultural extension officers.
The Grand Coalition government started the process of returning the New Kenya Co-operative Creameries to farmers. That has stalled. Instead, they want to privatize it at a time milk producers are being paid very low because of monopoly.
Wheat farmers in Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Narok and Trans-Nzoia have faced similar problems and these have been worsened by increasing land sub-division.
WHAT NASA WILL DO DIFFERENTLY:
1. Put more money in Agriculture, including provision of high quality and affordable fertilizers to allow farmers feed the nation without imports.
2. Kenya is a signatory to Maputo declaration which stipulates that at least 10% of the national budget goes to agriculture. We will meet this goal.
3. We will allocate enough money to NCPB to purchase cereals from farmers at profitable prices. Last Financial Year, Jubilee allocation to NCPB for the purchase of Strategic Grain Reserves (SGR) came down from Sh2.7bn in 2015 to Sh1.6bn. When NCPB is under-funded, it cannot stabilize the cereals prices. Millers and brokers then have a field day buying the produce at throwaway prices. Coming down as low as Sh1,500 per 90kg bags.
4. We will ensure that subsidized fertilizer reach the farmers directly and not through brokers as has been the case under Jubilee. The brokers have been adulterating the fertilizer before selling it at exorbitant prices. This monkey business has gone on with the blessing of senior government officials. We will stop it.
5. We will give the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) the money it requires to serve farmers. AFC requires at least Sh10bn for crop and development loans. In the 2016/17 budget, only Sh3bn which has been revolving was retained.
6. We will put money in Agricultural Development Corporation to allow it play effective role in seed production and promotion of quality livestock breeds. In 2016/17, ADC was allocated Sh0.5bn just for operations.
7. We will put money where it will yield the best results. For instance, the Galana-Kulalu Irrigation which kicked off before feasibility studies were done, was allocated Sh20.8bn only to yield 10 bags per acre. North Rift farmers if supported with such amount could produce more than 25 bags per acre on average.
8. We will deal firmly with corruption which is the biggest problem for agriculture in Kenya. Wheat farmers suffered a lot when the government waived duty on imported wheat flooding the market with cheap imports. We will adopt a policy of our farms and our farmers first.
9. We will ensure New KCC is returned to farmers to stabilize milk prices.
10. We will tackle the problem of land subdivision to ensure economical farming.