In a resounding move towards greater food security and self-sufficiency, Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has unveiled an ambitious plan to transform the nation’s edible oil landscape. With a clear vision in mind, the AFA aims to propel the country from a mere 5% edible oil production to a formidable 50% within the next five years.
This sunflower initiative signifies a pivotal step in Kenya’s journey towards both economic growth and a more secure food future, underlining the nation’s commitment to reducing its reliance on edible oil imports, which currently constitute a staggering 95% of its consumption.
A Collaborative Effort:
The cornerstone of this initiative is the import of 500 metric tonnes of sunflower seeds from Zambia. These seeds will be distributed to farmers across 24 Kenyan counties as part of the Edible Oils Promotion project. The selected counties, including Bungoma, Busia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Kitui, Kilifi, Kakamega, Meru, Lamu, Makueni, Embu, Taita Taveta, and Kwale, will play a vital role in this transformative venture.
Douglas Kangi, the Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, underlines the government’s commitment to the cause by allocating Ksh 1 billion for the initiative. He emphasizes that the project’s focus on sunflower cultivation has been intensified, particularly given the decrease in global demand for macadamia.
The Power of Sunflowers:
The sunflower’s appeal for this project lies in its cost-effectiveness and relatively short maturation period. These attributes make it an ideal choice to enhance edible oil production in Kenya.
Peterson Muthathai, a board member of AFA, provides a glimpse into the future by revealing that 500 metric tonnes of sunflower seeds from Zambia will grace Kenyan soil by the end of October. Additionally, the Kenya Seed Company has 70 metric tonnes of sunflower seeds dedicated to multiplication, further contributing to this agricultural transformation.
Gideon Menjo from the Presidential Economic Transformation secretariat underscores the substantial savings that await Kenya. Currently, the nation expends over Ksh 160 billion annually on edible oil imports. The initial intention of duty-free imports was to protect consumers from soaring prices. However, increasing local production will not only curtail this import bill but also fortify Kenya’s food security and self-reliance.
Revitalizing the Coastal Sectors:
In addition to the sunflower initiative, the Kenyan government is initiating a review process for the proposed Coconut and Cashew Nut Bill, 2023. This strategic move aims to breathe new life into the cashew nut and coconut sectors in the coastal regions of the country. The bill introduces comprehensive regulations governing the production, processing, marketing, grading, storage, transportation, and warehousing of these crops.
A Vision for the Future:
Crucially, the bill will establish the Coconut and Cashew Nut Board of Kenya, tasked with regulating and overseeing all aspects of these crops, from production to marketing and research and development.
In conclusion, Kenya’s sunflower initiative is a testament to the nation’s unwavering commitment to food security, economic growth, and a brighter future for its citizens. This endeavor is not just about oil; it’s about the promise of self-reliance and prosperity.
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