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Agriculture key plank in Kenyan general elections

GEORGE OKORE 02/07/2013 @ 6:41am Fifteen years experience as a journalist

The major political coalitions wishing to come into power in Kenya next month have pitched on agricultural reforms and revolution as key campaign planks.

Both Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and Jubilee Coalition, main protagonist in the March 4 general elections, last week launched ambitious political manifestos, with agricultural reforms among their priority plans.  Raila Odinga led CORD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with farmers promising to enhance agricultural production and food security.

The landmark treaty includes the firm undertaking that CORD will implement revive agriculture sector through restructuring and improvements. This includes subsidies to farmers and elaborate extension services. The coalition also promises value addition to agricultural produce like cereals, horticulture, trees, fish and livestock products (milk, beef and hides) and ensure strategic marketing of these products for improved (maximum) profits, direct to farmers.

It will also prioritize the structured return of state ownd Kenya Co operative Creameries (KCC) to dairy farmers, the conclusive payment to thousands of area dairy farmers. The CORD principals have also promised to expand agriculture sector operation to cover the entire country. The coalition will also ensure that at least 10% of the national budget will be invested in the sector to operationalize irrigation agriculture and institute support services and industries to complete the sustainable national food security design and produce more for export. That is a major improvement from the acutely deficient current 4.5% of the budget which the Jubilee side are determined to retain.

“This sector alone with accompanying industries and businesses offers clear window to generate CORDs’ promised 1 million jobs per year, from the farms to processing, transportation, industries and trading. Kenyan youths will get plenty of opportunities to earn a descent living,” expounds CORD deputy President Kalonzo Musyoka.

On the other, Jubilee coalition will prioritize job creation and food security, especially in the agro processing industries. Jubilee flag-bearer Uhuru Kenyatta says the manifesto underscores their plans to transform Kenya under the banner themes of Umoja (national cohesion), Uchumi (economic transformation) and Uwazi (transparency in governance).

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