AGRA’s new plan to improve Kenya’s food security, farmer incomes

AGRA has unveiled the Kenya Strategy, a fresh plan to support the country’s efforts in improving food security and increasing the resiliency of smallholder farmers.

The five-year plan is in line with Kenya’s long-term development strategy, Vision 2030, which aspires to make the country a newly industrializing, middle-income nation.  The plan draws on the successes and insights from the AGRA 2.0 plan.

The strategy, according to AGRA President Dr Agnes Kalibata, focuses on tackling major issues that the agricultural industry is experiencing, such as the need to evaluate the impact of climate change and associated shocks, give priority to disease monitoring, and concentrate on creating markets to encourage sustainable farming methods.

“Our delivery model will continue to scale and leverage proven approaches to deliver a competitive and inclusive agricultural transformation in Kenya. We are committed to working closely with smallholder farmers, the private sector, and other stakeholders to enhance food security and build the resilience of the agricultural sector,” Dr Kalibata said.

According to the Economic Survey 2023, Kenya’s agriculture industry, contracted for the second year in a row, accounting for 21.2 percent of the country’s GDP, but continues to be a crucial source of employment, income, foreign exchange earnings, and key connections with other economic sectors.

Aside from the climatic catastrophe, the agricultural sector is also grappling with the loss of arable land, which has decreased from approximately 25 percent 60 years ago to between 15 and 17 percent now due to competing real estate interests.

Read also: In Kenya, ‘Nikw’a ngwete’ famine of dying while holding money unfolds

Additionally, despite the industry’s significant economic contribution, it only receives a limited fiscal allocation—roughly 2 to 3 percent of the national budget. The average rate of commercial lending to the industry is similarly quite low, at 4 percent.

Dr Kalibata is urging more members of the business sector to work with AGRA to boost Kenya’s agricultural environment in light of these difficulties.

“Every time we buy food from overseas markets, we are simply exporting our jobs,” Dr Kalibata explained.

To advance the agricultural ecosystem, AGRA collaborates with a number of non-state organizations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, UKAid, USAid, KFW, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and German Cooperation. “Our investment is to make the ecosystem for smallholder farmers work,” she continued.

But as the effects of climate change on businesses grow, there is an urgent need for all participants to support programs that can restore the environment and boost agricultural investments’ resilience.

“Public-private partnerships have the potential to revolutionize food security in Kenya by combining the strengths of both sectors to create sustainable solutions that benefit the entire population,” said Mithika Linturi, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.

In order to increase agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security, value chain development, market access and trade, climate change, and the legislative and legal framework, Mr Linturi said the ministry will launch a number of programs.

African-led and African-based, AGRA was established in 2006 with the goal of accelerating agriculture transformation in Africa. By converting agriculture from a lone fight to live into farming as a business that succeeds, AGRA is committed to placing smallholder farmers at the heart of the continent’s expanding economy.

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