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Kenya's Agricultural Secretary Appeals for More International Assistance

Kenya’s Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Romano Kiome said his government is doing everything it can to deal with the country’s ongoing food crisis.But he said Kenya needs all the help it can get to cope with the situation.

Kiome was in the United States recently and talked about some of the factors contributing to Kenya’s food insecurity.

“As a country, we’ve gone through a very long period of drought for about two years. We’ve also gone through many external factors such as the post-election violence which caused disruption in the farming activities.As a part of the world, we’ve gone through food prices crisis, the fuel crisis, the economic meltdown, and all these things have affected the agricultural sector,” he said.

Kiome said the Kenyan government has taken several steps to deal with the crisis.

“The immediate action we took was to allow importation of food duty-free into the country. We have also put in place programs to boost food production through provision of seeds either subsidized or free to the poor people; we have put in place a comprehensive program to expand irrigation in the country,” Kiome said.

He said Kenya is looking for mostly monetary assistance from the international community to increase some of the programs it already has in place.

“We would like to expand our program to provide seeds toward what we call the traditional crops; we would like to expand our irrigation programs both small and large scale,” Kiome said.

Kiome said compounding the food situation in the country is the fact that Kenya is host to one of the largest numbers of refugees in Africa, mostly from Somalia and Sudan.

“We have to feed them; we have to provide them with security, and that stretches our economy to some extent,” Kiome said.

He said Kenya has one of the liberal land ownership policies in Africa which allows individuals to develop their land without any fear of losing it.