Speech by the principal secretary state department for crop development Hon. Phillip Kello Harsama

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  • I am greatly honored to be here today to officially open this year’s 2023 Annual Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture Conference, which seeks to provide a platform for stakeholder engagement and the exchange of information with value chain players.
  • The Agriculture Sector is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy contributing over 33% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and an additional 27% to GDP through linkages with manufacturing and service-related sectors.
  • Indeed, the theme of the conference, “Resilient Fruit and Vegetable Value Chains: Nourishing Our Lives, Empowering local communities and cottage industries.” clearly demonstrates that Agriculture sector is central to economic growth and transformation. It employs 40% of the total population and about 70% of the rural population while it accounts for 65 per cent of the country’s export earnings.
  • The Conference theme aligns with the Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS), 2019-2029, that highlights the Government’s initiatives to build households’ food resilience by increasing smallholder farmers’ incomes through supporting high agricultural productivity and value addition. The Strategy recognizes that Kenya’s vibrant agribusiness sector has tremendous potential to be a powerful engine of transformation. The implementation as much as possible is to be done through the private sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • Horticultural exports have undergone tremendous growth in the last 10 years, from KES 80 Billion earnings in 2013 to about KES 160 Billion in 2022. This development trend has been very encouraging and the country has been able to earn the much needed foreign exchange, besides providing food for the population, employment, and providing raw materials for the processing industry.
  • I am delighted to note that in this conference, key stakeholders and experts from academic, government, non-profit and private sectors of horticulture, nutrition, gender equity, youth engagement, and agri-entrepreneurship, will gather to speak, discuss and share their experiences from within the region and beyond.
  • There is need to enhance linkages with researchers, academia, extension providers and regulators to meet the ever-growing demand for market volumes and quality of our fruits. The critical role of fruits and vegetables for healthy populations and economic empowerment of smallholder farmers; forming partnerships for sustainable development of the horticulture sector, bridging gaps among sector actors; to nurturing resilient horticultural value chains, and  overcoming climate change and other food system shocks.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • The Government has put in place policies that have facilitated investments into the horticulture sector and deliberately improved rural infrastructure that has enabled the movement of produce across the country and establishment of private cooling chain facilities to support post- harvest handling of the fruits and vegetables.
  • Further, Government has facilitated horticulture development through tax free imports of some farm inputs and the development of export logistic handling facilities at the port of exit.
  • Important to note is that exporters of processed horticultural products are exempted from paying levies as part of the Governments initiative to reduce exports of primary products
  • The government has actively tried to mitigate Kenya’s reliance on European markets by opening new trade and flight routes to other countries, particularly the US, China and Russia, and the Middle East as, well as promoting Kenya’s entry into regional value-chains, particularly for small- and medium-sized players
  • The promotion of exports goes hand in hand with the promotion of production for the markets and processing, as well as local consumption. Today we have here with us champions of value addition including exporters and processors who produce mango pulp (puree), juices, jam, jellies, crisps, cosmetics among other products for domestic and export markets.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • The world is now going green using renewable energy for environmental conservation. The government has put measures to encourage climate smart and sustainable production practices through resilient value chains that can withstand climate shocks and sustain livelihoods.
  • As countries around the world race to fight the effects of climate change, carbon trading continues to gain popularity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • The lucrative horticultural industry has faced several constraints namely;  Low incentives in terms of local market prices, High costs of inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides), Stringent international standards and market requirements, which are a barrier to accessing the export market., and post-harvest losses and lack of quality to improve consumer acceptance
  • The National Government, in collaboration with other stakeholders, is addressing these challenges, through improved market linkages and access, empowerment of farmers and strengthening of support institutions under the Ministry of agriculture, including AFA. To this end I’m calling upon all stakeholders to work very closely with the Government, and Food Authority offices with the objective of accessing these beneficial services.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • Today’s conference has brought together the different players along the fruit and vegetables value chain. I expect participants in this conference to bring out the challenges within the value chain and come up with interventions and chart a workable way forward.
  • I sincerely want to appreciate the conveners and sponsors of this conference, International Center for Evaluation and Development (ICED), and  the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), for hosting and supporting this year’s 2023 annual event
  • With these few remarks, I declare this conference officially opened.

Thank you.