KENYA: Government writes off sugarcane farmer debts
Published: 06/15/2012, 4:28:55 PM
The government has allocated KES1.5 billion (US$17.7 million) to write-off farmers' debts in the sugar, rice and coffee sectors, according to Kenya's Capital FM radio.
Finance Minister Njeru Githae said farmers across the country are overburdened by debts, arising from past mismanagement of farmers' production and marketing institutions.
"This has consequently had adverse effects on farm output and productivity as some farmers cannot access credit," he said while delivering the budget statement on Thursday.
Githae added that the government has made significant efforts to make subsidized fertilizer available to reduce the burden of high prices to farmers, and petitioned the private sector to do their part in easing the financial burden on farmers.
"I wish to challenge the private sector players to begin to seriously consider local production of fertilizer so as to bring down our dependence on imports in this sector," he said.
The fertilizer subsidy to insulate the farmers from the rising prices in last year's budget, however was one of the factors that led government to incur higher expenditure.
Overall in the area of agriculture, Githae stressed the government's aim to not only to attain food security but create gainful employment opportunities for citizens.
"To this end and in order to scale up the on-going irrigation program and initiate new ones in 2012/13, I have allocated an additional KES8 billion. To complement these efforts, the National Irrigation Board will explore ways to shift to drip irrigation method as a more economical and efficient way of expanding irrigation coverage," he explained.