FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Media Contact: Collins Oteko: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF) hosted the KENAFF National Farmers Forum on 1st and 2nd July, 2022. The forum was attended by farmers and their leaders from all the 47 counties; with the objective to validate views, opinions and input gathered by KENAFF over three months (April to June) on the topic: Which way for farmers in Elections 2022? The forum distilled the issues of utmost concern to the farmers of Kenya into the Farmers’ Manifesto.
In the days to August 9 and, indeed, beyond over 2022—2027, KENAFF shall use this Manifesto as the basis upon which to negotiate with both county and national governments on what matters most to farmers’’ welfare and sustainable and meaningful agricultural transformation and development in the country.
To the extent that:
- Farmers constitute a majority of the Kenyan population, are the main drivers of the agriculture sector;
- The farmers of Kenya bear the greatest burden in turning the country’s economy and are the only hope for the meaningful and sustainable socioeconomic transformation envisaged in Kenya Vision 2030;
- Farmers contribute the most to stabilizing the country’s food and nutrition security;
- The agriculture and related industries sector contribute 26% and 27% of the country’s GDP directly and indirectly respectively; employs more than 40% of the total population and more than 70% of Kenya’s rural population;
- The sector also accounts for 65% of Kenya’s export earnings; and,
- Provides livelihoods (employment, income and food and nutrition security) for more than 80% of the country’s rural population,
The Government (at both national and sub-national levels) bears a moral and constitutional [Article 43 (1)(c)] obligation to designate the agriculture and food sector a national security matter. Indeed, the government should spare no effort in building a solid and sustainable agriculture and food sector that guarantees all Kenyans and at all times sufficient food and appropriate nutrition. This is the only way to build a strong, proud and aspirational country; It is the only way to achieve the imperatives of Kenya Vision 2030 and make Kenya stand tall and respected in the comity of nations.
The government should provide a conducive environment (access to farm credit and insurance at all levels; well-funded agriculture and food research at the national level; well-funded agriculture and livestock extension services at the county level; elaborate and suitable rural infrastructure, including—all-weather roads, last mile power connectivity, piped water, irrigation structures, post-harvest technologies and facilities and farmer-driven produce markets— and Guaranteed Minimum Return through a well-structured commodity and futures markets).
Kenyan armers are not beggars and will not allow themselves to be treated as such anymore. The agriculture and food sector should have pride of place in our country’s socioeconomic life. All farers need is a conducive environment as well as a supportive government architecture to support a thriving agricultural sector in the country.
To these ends:
The farmers of Kenya, under the aegis of the Kenya National farmers’ federation (KENAFF) National Farmers Forum, declare the following as critical issues in the Farmers’ Manifesto that the government, at both county and national levels, must dedicate itself to the 12 points listed here (see below). After the elections, KENAFF shall develop 47 County based Farmers’ (Agri-food) Manifestos that KENAFF branches in all counties shall deploy in their engagement with governors and county assemblies. On the other hand, the KENAFF national office shall use the national farmers’ Manifesto to engage with the national government.
- Designate the country’s food, feed & nutrition security as a national security matter: a national government official in charge of the country’s agri-food and feed system should be on the National Security Council. No Kenyan should have to die of hunger anymore; and Kenya must stop the embarrassing calling for food aid every 3-5 years. Kenya can feed herself: there’s no more sacrosanct obligation (in the social contract between the citizens of Kenya and their government) than the right to food and nutrition security for all at all times.
- Support the establishment of a national farmers’ database, disaggregated in value chains and wards; and connected to a solid agri-food ecosystem: this should bring together education, training & research; extension services; farm credit & insurance; farm inputs; markets; and farmers’ organizations.
- Strengthen the finance, regulatory and policy aspects of Climate Smart Agriculture: climate change poses an existential threat to the country’s agri-food system. While this is a global phenomenon, it first requires a national response in order to build a forward-looking and resilient agri-food system that will guarantee Kenyans food and nutrition security for the next 100 years.
- Invest in new farm technologies, innovations and management practises (TIMPs): this includes leveraging ICT technologies, equipping farmers with the right knowledge, skills and management practises to practise farming in a fast-changing world.
- Nurture a suitable policy and regulatory environment supportive of farmers’ access to affordable credit as well as crop and livestock insurance: strengthen the capitalization of the agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC) and set up an AFC branches at sub-county level in all counties whose county GDP is mainly supported by the agriculture sector. Set up farmers’ credit guarantee schemes to support the youth and women in agriculture as well as farmers I contract farming for processing factories and/or export. The government should also promote the uptake of crop and livestock insurance.
- Invest in a solid national irrigation infrastructure: only about 4% of Kenya’s irrigable land is under irrigation. For a water deficient country that is almost entirely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, this is a stinging embarrassment. The National Irrigation Board should be capitalized to the highest extent possible and then tasked with ensuring that Kenya becomes a sustainably food and nutrition secure country.
- Invest in a solid national agricultural and livestock education, training and research system: the research to practise gap is glaring as 90% of farmers have no idea about research that goes on at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and our premier agriculture and life sciences education and training centres like Egerton University. This system would be well funded and, in turn, mandated to deliver on specific national imperatives related to agriculture and food on 5-year rolling basis.
- Build and support a system that guarantees affordable farm inputs: the European Union spends more than 50% of its budget to support farmers and agriculture in general. There’s no reason whatsoever why the government should not commit to a sustainable and affordable farm inputs regime. Farmers must never have to spend more inputs than they’ll earn from their farming enterprises; as this would mean either abandoning farming altogether or practicing farming at the subsistence level. A growing, ambitious and aspirational country such as ours needs to practise agriculture at level that not only guarantees food and nutrition security but also provides surpluses for trade.
- Enhance the provision of targeted crop, livestock, farm forestry, fisheries and aquaculture extension services: county governments must commit funds into this; being the only way to enhance production and productivity; and, indeed, local food systems as well as contribute to the growth of respective county economies.
- Support the private sector to establish a national network of postharvest handling and storage technologies and facilities: Kenyan farmers incur substantive losses due to poor and/or non-existent postharvest handling and storage technologies and facilities. This is particularly so with horticultural produce (fruits, vegetables and other green produce) but also cereals (maize, sorghum and rice), tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava) as well as dairy. Properly targeted investments should be brought into this for the country to avoid this uncalled for waste; a serious drain on farmers’ incomes and the economy as a whole.
- Build and develop a framework that connects farmers with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), micro-SMEs, cottage industries and related agro-processing facilities for value addition: this is well elaborated in the agriculture sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS). Ensuring agricultural and livestock production are optimally connected to processing and other forms of value addition will go a long way to commercializing farm enterprises in Kenya.
- Expand and deepen markets for Kenyan produce and commodities: the government should commit to a deliberate and sustained market discovery programme for Kenyan agricultural output. This not only includes strengthening the existing warehouse Receipt System (WRS) but also setting up a sustainable futures markets infrastructure in the country and looking within Africa and beyond for markets.
About Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF)
KENAFF is the National Farmers’ Organization (NFO) in Kenya. It is a non-political, not-for profit and democratic membership-based organization with the core mandate to represent, articulate, promote and protect the interests of the farmers of Kenya through lobby, advocacy, policy action and farmer empowerment. This mandate is embodied in the KENAFF motto: The Farmers’ Voice/ Sauti ya Mkulima. The mandate is operationalized through an elaborate organizational structure; starting at the ward, sub-county, county, and the national level with the National farmers Assembly (NFA) and the KENAFF Annual General Meeting (KENAFF AGM). KENAFF was founded in 1946 as the Kenya National Farmers Union (KNFU) and now has a presence in all the 47 counties, divided into eleven (11) KENAFF regions; representing about 1.6 million farm families as of June 2022.