December 7, 2022

Ruto Outlines Plan to Boost Agriculture Amid Looming Effects of Climate Change

President William Ruto with Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi during the 2022 Mashujaa Day Celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi County. (Photo Presidential Press Service)

By Mwakera Mwajefa


Agriculture is key to increasing food production, reduce the cost of living and create a more prosperous Kenya, President William Ruto outlined his plans while marking this year’s Mashujaa Day Celebrations. 

To do this, his government intends to construct at least 100 dams for the shortest time possible to help put 3 million acres of land under irrigation to end overreliance on rain-fed agriculture. 

“We have to take very bold steps to end the perpetual cycle of hunger and dependency on rain-fed agriculture. We must eradicate hunger in our country in the shortest time possible,” he said. 

The government is already implementing short term measures to address the food shortages occasioned by the prolonged drought and is also providing subsidized fertilizer to boost production. 

The raft of measures he lists for boosting agriculture include scaling up seed multiplication for all crops with irrigation as the ultimate solution in guaranteeing food security.  

In 2017 post-election period, the government had set out to build 57 dams to harness water for irrigation and domestic use but this never materialized due to competing budgetary priorities. 

Speaking at Uhuru Gardens, the President said his administration will seek public-private partnerships to build as many dams as possible. 

Already, three (3) million acres have been identified irrigable land which the government plans to double up under irrigation and for rice production, Bunyala, the Tana Delta, Rohole (Garissa), Mwea and Ahero will take priority. 

President William Ruto with First Lady Rachel Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Mama Dorcas Gachagua during the 2022 Mashujaa Day Celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi County. (Photo By / Presidential Press Service)

To deal with the climate change threats, Mr Ruto directed the recruitment of 2700 forest rangers and 600 forest officers to drive his administration’s agenda to increase Kenya’s forest cover to 30 percent by 2032. 

“Without a doubt, climate change is complicating our roadmap towards socio-economic transformation and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. 

Kenya, like many other Horn of Africa countries, is currently faced with a severe drought, the worst in 40 years, due to failed rains for three consecutive years. 

Short-term measures to respond to the evolving situation aside, country’s forest cover is alarmingly 5.2 million square kilometers of its 59.2 million square kilometers. 

This means that 54 million hectares are bare earth, exposed to erosion and biodiversity loss simply saying over 80 percent of that lies in arid and semi-arid lands. 

Through a Special Presidential Forestry and Rangeland Restoration Acceleration Programme, the government plans to grow five (5) billion trees in the next five (5) years with an additional 10 billion trees between 2027 and 2032. 

“This will eventually lead to the rehabilitation and restoration of 10.6 million hectares through constituency nerve-centres in the 290 constituencies, as well as some specially selected ecosystem,” he added. 

In an apparent response to his critics, Mr Ruto said his administration will not interfere with the work of independent institutions such as the police, the judiciary and the anti-graft agency. 

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA)/United Democratic Alliance (UDA) government will be committed to the rule of law, fidelity to Constitutional due process and execution of judicial orders and decrees.  

“Most critically, under my administration, there shall be no interference with, or any attempts to control, direct or undermine independent institutions, including those in the justice, law and order sector.” 

The National Police Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Judiciary and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission will be required to perform their duties independently and professionally but also subject themselves to oversight by National Assembly or the Senate. 

According to Mr Ruto effective deterrence of crime requires robust prosecution, while economic efficiency, investor confidence and competitiveness will all depend on effective dispute resolution from independent judiciary. 

The era of lawlessness, which denied millions of Kenyans opportunities to benefit from the country’s economic development, has come to an end as the security forces will now defend the people without using extrajudicial means. 

“There are parts of this country where personal safety and security are precarious, and life expectancy is low. Poverty and the cost of living are high because markets and supply chains have been disrupted or threatened by insecurity. The well-being of residents is as paramount as that of every other citizen of Kenya.” 

Wiper leader Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka during the 2022 Mashujaa Day Celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi County. (Photo By/ Presidential Press Service)

He believes his directives on the financial autonomy of the National Police Service and reforms in the Directorate of Criminal Investigation will enable rapid achievement of national security strategic objectives. 

The use extrajudicial tactics or partisan agenda will not fulfil the security goals but for efficiently and effectively suppressing crime, monitoring, disrupting and apprehending criminals without abducting, torturing, killing or causing victims to disappear. 

The police, according to Mr Ruto, will be required to maintain high professional standards and scrupulous adherence to the law when delivering their services to wananchi. 

At the international and regional front, Kenya intends to commit itself to win-win bilateral as well as multilateral outcomes that achieve mutual gains for the benefit of humanity. 

Apart from this, the country will continue to sustain its Pan-Africanist credentials and obligations to meet the demands of fast-evolving global circumstances. 

“Kenya is committed to the pursuit of trade to move forward Pan-African ideals and create shared prosperity.” 

The country is also committed to maintain strong strategic relations with key development partners the US, the UK, the EU, Middle Eastern nations and the Far East including China and Japan. 

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