By CONRAD ONYANGO
The Ministry of Agriculture has set new targets in all commodity production levels following its acquisition of ISO 9001: 2008 certification.
The PS in the ministry, Dr Romano Kiome said the ministry is targeting an up of 5 percent in agricultural productivity out put annually, to ensure the country has sufficient food for the growing population, while ensuring sufficient employment opportunities in the country.
“We want the production rates increased to 5 percent in its lowest this year. I am optimistic we can surpass the targets now that we have reached international standards,” said Kiome.
Among the commodities earmarked for increased productions include rice, sugar, coconut, maize among others. But the PS stressed the need to lay much focus on the production of coconut and cotton in the country.
“The production levels of the two commodities including rice are still low, they should reach the target to ensure food security and increase employment opportunities in the country,” said the PS.
Through the certification, the ministry targets to reduce post harvest loses from the current 40 percent to 10 percent and double water harvesting structures including water pans from the current 220 to 460 by the end of the year.
Kiome expressed hope the move will result to attainment of the set target from the current commodities production levels estimated at 2 to 3 percent annually.
“We have been able to reduce post harvest loses from 40 to 20 percent, now we are eying at reaching 15 or even below 10 percent this year. This will ensure production rates are high,” said Kiome.
The ministry also plans to improve access to extension services and modern technologies to farmers. The latter, the ministry hopes to achieve through Public -Private partnership that will facilitate provision of ICT based approach to farming practices.
“The ministry will strengthen the institutional capacity through training by increasing workforce critical skills required to achieve the objectives by 20 percent,” added Kiome.
However, the ministry decried of poor legislation that have dragged the sector’s progress. But the ministry vowed to re-align and review the policy guidelines and regulations to meet customer expectations and needs.
“We are up in arms to create an enabling environment by re-aligning up to 30 percent of the sectors policy by the end of the year,” said minister for Agriculture, Dr. Sally Kosgei.
Following the recent outcry by South Rift farmers over shortage of fertilizers in the area, the minister said the ministry is addressing the issue to ensure farmers get the agricultural supplements at the right time.
“The ministry is assuring farmers in the region that we are addressing the shortage to ensure planting is done at the right time,” said Kosgei.
This comes at a time when farmers in the country are preparing for the first planting season of the year.