BUDGET 2020/21

Food security experts fault slash in agriculture budget

Low agricultural sector budget allocation to impact on food security - experts

In Summary
  • The agricultural sector, which is primarily responsible for food and nutrition, was allocated Sh52.8billion, a decrease of Sh1.1billion or 2 per cent from FY2019/2020.
  • However, despite Kenya being an agricultural economy, it relies on imports to meet domestic food needs, while the government prioritises the large-scale production of cash crops for export.
Food security image
Food security image

Food security experts are concerned that reduced revenue allocation to the agricultural sector  coupled with a 14 percent tax on gas and cooking stoves will hurt households.

The agricultural sector,  primarily responsible for food and nutrition, was allocated Sh52.8billion in the 2020/21 budget, a decrease of Sh1.1billion a two per cent cut from the 2019/2020 financial year.

The Economic Survey 2020 indicates a slow growth in the sector at 3.6 percent in 2019, compared to six percent in 2018,  due to drought which was followed by floods.

 

According to the Route to Food Initiative (RFI) , the agriculture sector allocation is low against the required budget of  Sh97.7billion according to the Budget Policy Statement 2020 and therefore slashed by 46 per cent.

The report notes that due to low allocation of funds to the sector, 56 per cent of the total stalled projects in the public sector are food security projects.

“With the insufficient allocation to the sector compounded by the economic shocks facing the country and the world this year, we can expect an exacerbation of food and nutrition insecurity,” the group says  in it’s analysis of the budget.

It say budget funds give limited support to small-scale farmers who  produce the bulk of Kenya’s food and reduced funding will hurt the drive towards sustainable food and nutrition security.

"The 2020/2021 fiscal year, brings with it some unique and some familiar challenges, the desert locust invasion, COVID-19 pandemic and widespread flooding have disrupted an already imperfect food system therefore low allocation of funds will hamper efforts towards food security," said the report.

 
 

According to the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey 2015/2016, one in three shillings (39 per cent) borrowed by households, is spent on basics such as food, toiletries and water. 

According to RFI the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly highlighted the need for Kenya to be food self-sufficient and therefore, budget policies and allocations at national and county level, should support the domestic food system.

It calls for strategic investments to improve efficiencies along the food value chain, from farm to fork.

The group also recommends that land and crops development and food security initiatives be financed to enable realisation of the planned sub-sector targets including increasing productivity of selected value chains in 24 counties and drought and construction of water resources and boreholes.