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Statement by the Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Kenya to the 30th Session of IFAD's Governing Council

The Chairman of the Council, James Harvey
The President of IFAD, H.E. Lennart Båge,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for giving me the floor. Allow me to join the others who have spoken before me in congratulating you for being elected to chair this session. I know, with you able leadership, the Session will be a great success.

Let me also express our satisfaction with the arrangements for the 30th Governing Council especially for providing a useful platform for interaction and sharing of ideas through the round table discussions whose main theme "Rural employment and livelihood" is timely and very pertinent.

Mr. Chairman,

As we are all aware the main challenge facing IFAD is the fight against the twin scourges of hunger and poverty and specifically to help Member countries reduce by half the proportion of people who are poor and suffer form hunger by 2015 in line with the Millennium Development Goals and the World Food Summit targets. It is for this reason the Kenya considers IFAD to be such an important institution as 70% of its population live in the rural areas of whom over 54% live below the poverty line.

Mr. Chairman,

Kenya is convinced that in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the World Food Summit targets within the stipulated time it has to give high priority to agricultural and rural development and the formulation of appropriate programmes that target the poor and vulnerable segments of our society. Towards this end, the Government has put in place the necessary policy frameworks including "The Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation" and the "Strategy for Revitalization of Agriculture" (SRA). The key objectives of SRA are:

  • To make Kenya globally competitive in key commodities
  • To avail to the agricultural sector essential services and inputs
  • To assist the disadvantaged agricultural producers attain marketable surplus, and access the market for their products.
  • To ensure food security by availing Kenyans accessibility to affordable food.
  • The conversation of the environment and natural resource base.
  • Value addition and agro-processing

Although agriculture is and will continue to be the main activity of the rural poor in Kenya, non-farm activities such as value addition through agro-processing and input supply activities are increasingly becoming important. However, to enable the majority of the rural poor to engage in gainful employment in the non-farm activities, there is a need to identify areas with the greatest potential. We consider the value chain approach as an appropriate technique for identifying potential non-farm opportunities that can contribute to the creation of rural employment and the enhancement of rural livelihoods. For this reason my delegation looks forward to the synthesis of the ideas that are expected to come from the round-table discussions on rural employment promotion through the value chain approach.

Mr. Chairman,

This Governing Council has come at a time when we in Kenya aer emerging from one of the most severe and devastating droughts which struck many parts of the arid and semi-arid parts of our country. In the recent past the droughts have been recurring more frequently and with increased intensity causing great suffering to the poor and vulnerable people who inhabit these areas.
As the drought-prone areas of Kenya and other such lands in the Horn of Africa are some of the most food insecure regions in the world, I would like to urge the Global Mechanism which is hosted in IFAD to strengthen its activities in the region in support of national and regional efforts being undertaken toward building sustainable livelihoods for the inhabitants. Such enhanced engagement would go a long way in strengthening the technical capacity of the countries in the region to combat desertification and in identification of financing for priority projects.

Mr. Chairman,

As a country, we look forward to IFAD stepping up its loan and grant portfolio to Kenya to help us to increase our coverage and shorten the time in which to reach the majority in the grass-roots where it matters most. This will however be based on evaluations which will inform our scores for the Performance Based Allocation System (PBAS). From the start, our position on the PBAS has been very clear. While we have supported it in principle, as we see it evolving into a more transparent and effective allocation system, we have nonetheless called for caution to be exercised in implementing the system. Our apprehensions emanate from the perceived possibility of the system impeding rather than facilitating access to funding by the poor in countries which still have weak bureaucratic systems.
It is for this reason that my delegation fully supports the December 2006 IFAD Executive Board recommendation for convening a working group to develop broader understanding of evolving issues in PBAS implementation. No doubt we shall follow the progress of the working group very keenly.

Mr. Chairman,

We are determined to turn around the lives of the rural poor and move to a path of food sufficiency and prosperity. We know this will take considerable and concerted efforts by the Government, our development partners, the communities themselves and other stakeholders. However, we believe we have taken the first vital steps and are on the right track. While we have benefited from support from our development partners, as a country we have taken deliberate steps to increase investment of our own resources in the agricultural sector. For example the budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector has increased from a meagre 4% to 7.2% of the total annual budget within the last three years. This together with other investments and favourable policy environment is bearing fruits. This is illustrated by the growth in the agricultural sector of 6.7% from the total economy growth of 5.8%. A further key indicator of the positive performance of the sector is the upturn in the production of our staple food crop maize which has surpassed the annual consumption.
In conclusion let me convey our appreciation to IFAD for its responsiveness to our agricultural and rural development priorities. The most recent projects on dairy and horticultural development, and on natural resources conservation bear witness to this. We are confident that we can count on IFAD's support as we have done in the past, as a strong partner in reducing poverty and hunger in Kenya.

I thank you.

Hon. Kipruto Arap Kirwa
Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Kenya