Experts on Friday urged Kenya to increase investments in the agricultural sector to boost the country’s economic growth.
Ken Gichinga, chief economist at Menotria Economics, said agriculture is the largest sector of the economy that provides the bulk of employment opportunities.
“Investments in the agricultural sector are likely to have the biggest impact on the economy as compared to any other sector,” Gichinga said during a post-budget briefing by Ernst and Young.
On Thursday, Kenya launched its 3.02 trillion shilling (30 billion U.S. dollars) budget for 2019/2020 financial year.
In 2003, African heads of state signed the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security that urged the continent to devote at least 10 percent of its budgetary resources to agriculture.
Gichinga said that in the next financial year, Kenya has devoted approximately 550 million dollars to agriculture, which is less than 10 percent of budget.
The average age of a farmer in Kenya is above 50 years, with the youth migrating to urban centers in search of employment opportunities, he noted.
Bitange Ndemo, senior lecturer of the School of Business at the University of Nairobi, said the government is not doing enough to catalyze the growth of the agricultural sector.
Ndemo said Kenya is a net food importer despite having huge tracts of arable land.
Value addition in the agricultural sector could help the country achieve food security, he said.
Ndemo also called for efforts to cut waste in agricultural production.
“Between 30 to 40 percent of agricultural harvest goes to waste,” he said. “There exist innovative solutions that can help to curb the food losses.” Enditem