Government receives Sh7.5 billion loan to boost cereals production

Monday, July 18th, 2022 06:00 | By
The National Treasury building. Photo/PD/Alice Mburu
The National Treasury building. PHOTO/Alice Mburu

Kenya has received Sh7.5 billion loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to boost cereal and oil seeds production by over 1.5 million metric tones over the next two years.

Increased cereal production will help bolster national food security and economic resilience.

The loan will support Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.

It will enable the government to promptly provide affordable fertilizer and seeds to farmers ahead of the October-December 2022 short rain and into the 2022/2023 long rains crop production season.

The loan is part of the AfDB’s Sh179 billion emergency facility for Africa aimed at averting a looming food crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

“Successful implementation of the loan will see some 650,000 farmer direct beneficiaries, resulting in the production of 1.5 million tonnes of cereals and oil seeds. It will positively impact some 2.8 million people,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, AfDB vice-president for agriculture, human and social development.

The project entails the delivery of certified seeds, fertilizers and agricultural extension to 650,000 farmers to boost productivity. An e-voucher system will be used to ensure that subsidies for inputs are “smart”.

Another component of the project will provide trade finance guarantees and leverage the private sector to ensure sufficient volumes of fertilizer are available to farmers.  In addition to boosting staple food availability, the project, which targets smallholder farmers, is expected to particularly benefit women and youth.

“The government is looking into ways and means of addressing the cost of maize flour to bring it down so that consumers can afford it,” said Peter Munya, Cabinet Secretary for the Agriculture.

The agriculture sector remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy, employing 70 percent of the rural population and accounting for about 65 percent of export earnings, although its share in the GDP has declined over the recent past.

Beyond the effects of the Ukraine war, climate change and a recent locust infestation have affected food production negatively.

The effects of Covid-19 pandemic have affected Kenya’s progress in achieving food security.

The number of food-insecure people in the country’s pastoral and marginal areas rose by 48 percent between August 2021 and February 2022, according to estimates..

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