World Bank offers farmers Sh6b boost

Published on 13/06/2009

By John Oyuke

The World Bank has approved Sh6.39 billion ($82 million) to enable smallholder farmers improve productivity and agribusiness development.

The project, approved by the bank’s board on Thursday, would assist the country diversify its agriculture, add value and deepen linkages to markets.

It will also promote public/private partnerships in service delivery and agribusiness.

World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Mr Johannes Zutt, said with the new investment, Kenyan farmers would be able to increase their production and value-addition in agriculture and strengthen agribusiness development in line with the Government’s Vision 2030.

Food crisis

“The bank is committed to supporting Kenya not only by increasing agricultural production to deal with the global food crisis, but also by adding value to agricultural output for higher incomes, employment and enhanced food security,” he said.

He said the project would scale up gains achieved through the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project, which supported agricultural research, extension and empowerment of farmers.

Project approval

The $40-million bank funded programme closed in December 2008.

Approval of the new project coincided with presentation of the country’s 2009 Budget in which the Government expressed commitment to put on the path to food security.

The project’s Task Team Leader, Mr Andrew Karanja, said farmers would be encouraged to diversify into high value products to reduce rising rural poverty. “It will also enable the Government, development partners and other agencies involved in the agricultural sector to better co-ordinate financing and implementation of extension and other advisory services,” he said.

The Government will contribute an additional $14.1 million to the new programme, while the project beneficiaries who number around 250,000 households, will contribute $2.3 million in form of labour and materials.

Zutt said in a statement that the strategic focus of the new programme would be to promote sector-wide approaches in line with Kenya’s development priorities that cover Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) and poverty reduction.

growth projection

He observed the agricultural that is projected to grow between five and seven per cent directly affects the poor, as two-thirds of the population and 80 percent of the poor live in rural areas, where they derive their livelihoods on agriculture and related activities.

In April, the bank provided an emergency grant of $5 million under its Global Food Crisis Response Programme to assist Kenya deal with significant food shortfalls.

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