The agriculture sector is underfunded despite making an immense contribution to the economy, MPs have said.
Members of the National Assembly’s Agriculture Committee on Monday demanded that the government allocates 10 percent of its budget to the sector.
Agriculture contributes about 34 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and employs nearly 70 percent of Kenya’s rural population.
The sector also indirectly contributes an additional 27 percent of GDP, through linkages with other sectors and employs more than 40 percent of the country’s total population.
The committee said, despite the immense contribution, the sector has been allocated Sh62 billion in the 2021-22 financial year.
Kenya’s budget is about Sh3 trillion and 10 percent would mean the agriculture sector gets allocates about Sh300 billion.
In the current financial year, the sector was allocated Sh60.7 billion, whereas, in the 2019-20 financial year, it was allocated Sh50.1 billion.
Committee chairman Silas Tiren said the national government should ensure 10 percent of the country’s budget is allocated to agriculture.
He said Kenya is a signatory to the African Union 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, which resolved that 10 percent of the national budget should be allocated to agriculture development.
Kenya’s 2021-22 budget is expected to top Sh3.5 trillion.
“Looking at the budget estimates, we see a lot of challenges and we are not happy because the sector is being underfunded considering that Kenya is a signatory to the Maputo declaration,” Tiren said in Mombasa on Monday.
Committee members were in the Coastal city for a meeting to deliberate the 2021-22 budget estimates. Tiren said the sector should be allocated at least Sh26 billion more. That means it would get Sh86 billion
“We urge the National Treasury to treat the Agricultural sector with the seriousness it deserves,” The Moiben MP said.
According to the 2021-22 budget, out of the Sh62 billion allocated to the agricultural sector, Sh46 billion have been set aside for crop development, Sh10 billion for fisheries and Sh6 billion for livestock.
At the same time, the committee warned of cartels who are hell-bent on derailing development in the agricultural sector.
The MPs questioned the motives of the people who have gone to court to challenge the implementation of the 2018 Tea Bill, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December last year.
The bill aims at streamlining the tea sector.
“We are warning the cartels in the tea sector, who want to derail our ambitions. Your days are numbered, you will not frustrate us,” Tiren said.
He said Parliament is also coming up with bills to streamline the sugar and coffee sectors.