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Ruto must back his pledges with action

Tuesday, March 5th, 2024 01:30 | By
State must cut its coat according to its cloth
President William Ruto attending AU's Peace and Security Council Mini-Summit on Eastern DRC at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 16, 2024. PHOTO/X (@WilliamsRuto)

President William Ruto’s pledge to end the importation of edible oil and food products is a step in the right direction for Kenya’s agricultural and economic self-sufficiency.

Recognising the strain on the country’s dollar reserves caused by imports, the pledge to reduce reliance on foreign goods is commendable.

It’s unthinkable that a country as endowed as Kenya continues to be a net importer of food and gobble up close to Sh500 billion to import sugar, wheat, maize, rice and edible oil.

Ruto’s commitment to decrease imports by 50 per cent within three years and eliminate them within five years demonstrates a clear vision for promoting self-sufficiency.

Providing Kenyan farmers with sunflower seeds and implementing initiatives to boost local production across various agricultural sectors underscores a proactive approach to reducing costs and enhancing food security.

However, mere promises are insufficient. They must be accompanied by concrete action and a comprehensive plan to realise the commitments.

While prioritising self-reliance is crucial, Ruto must also address the challenges facing the manufacturing sector to ensure that edible oil can be produced domestically at affordable rates.

The decline in the ease of doing business has hindered growth in the manufacturing sector, leading many businesses to seek opportunities elsewhere.

To fully leverage the benefits of agricultural self-sufficiency, revitalizing manufacturing is imperative. This entails implementing policies to improve the business environment, encourage investment in modern technology and enhancing market access for local products.

By harnessing the potential of industrialisation, Kenya can develop a more diversified and resilient economy capable of withstanding external shocks such as currency fluctuations while fostering sustainable growth.

It is worth noting that addressing challenges facing both agriculture and industry will be pivotal in unlocking Kenya’s full economic potential and charting a path towards prosperity.

However, this must be supported by tangible action and strategies to ensure its success.

There is a growing cynicism about the Kenya Kwanza administration’s record on fulfilment of its pledges as well its commitment to them.

This is the not the time to make pledges, it is the time to implement them.

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