Last September in Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the largest ever annual gathering of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) at which he delivered a blunt assessment of Africa’s economic future. “The transformation of Africa,” he said, “will only work if we transform agriculture.”
He speaks from experience, because what’s true for Africa is especially true for Kenya. Our future fortunes are in the hands of our farmers and the food industry.
Three out of every four Kenyans work in some aspect of agriculture and food production and economic growth in agriculture is eleven times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in any other sector.
The importance of agriculture for Kenya and for all of Africa is now widely acknowledged and a new wave of support is rising in both the public and private sector, and among development partners and donors.
For example, at last year’s AGRF, the African Development Bank (AfDB) pledged US $24 billion over the next ten years for agribusiness projects in Africa.
In Kenya, President Kenyatta pledged US $200 million in new spending to help young farmers gain access to markets, financing and insurance.
The Kenya Commercial Bank Group led by the Chair Joshua Oigara set aside US $350 million – 5 percent of the bank’s overall lending portfolio – for financing agriculture business initiatives targeting Kenya’s 3.5 million smallholder family farmers.
The prospect of a surge of investments for Kenyan farmers and local agriculture businesses is raising expectations for Kenya’s agriculture sector. That’s why the Government of Kenya, in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the AUC’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and Africa Lead (a program run by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID), convened a three-day meeting in Nairobi last month to build consensus for a new strategy that will guide the implementation of Kenya’s National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP).