US, Britain trade pacts offer markets for crops besides maize

New markets expected as farmers diversify from maize because of low profits, grow avocados, fruits and vegetables

In Summary

• Trade CS Betty Maina says Kenya concluding negotiations for new accord with US to give country more opportunities and markets.

• Kenya also finalising negotiations on African Continental Free Trade Area that will create more markets for Kenyan products.

CS for Trade Betty Maina launches an agrohub at Moi's Bridge in Uasin Gishu on August 24.
AGROHUB: CS for Trade Betty Maina launches an agrohub at Moi's Bridge in Uasin Gishu on August 24.

Renewed trade pacts with the US and Britain will expand markets for Rift Valley and other farmers who are increasingly diversifying from maize.

Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said on Monday Kenya is concluding negotiations with the US to provide more trade opportunities and markets.

She spoke at Moi's Bridge during the opening of an agrohub at Moi's Bridge Park. It will strengthen the food value chain in Kenya's breadbasket by reducing post-harvest losses and facilitating agro-industrial businesses.

“Following Brexit, we will do the same with the United Kingdom to create new markets for farmers and other Kenyans engaging in business," Maina said.

Talks on the African Continental Free Trade Area will also create more opportunities and markets for Kenyan products, she said.

Farmers in the Rift Valley and elsewhere are increasingly growing avocado, other vegetables and fruits as well as flowers in diversification programmes.

“From next year we will do away with over-reliance on maize by farmers in this region. Many are already ahead in diversification and will tap into new markets we are creating," Maina said.

Farmers complain growing maize is largely unprofitable due to low prices and lack of new markets.

Diversification will quickly support economic growth and sustainability, the CS said, adding that crops such as avocado already have markets.

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said the county is supporting farmers with at least five new promotional crops.

"We are a step ahead in diversification and we urge the Ministry of Industrialisation to work on infrastructure so investors will find it easy to set up other industrial parks in the counties," Chemno said.

County trade executive Emily Kogos urged domestic investors to take advantage of opportunities in crop diversification.

“As a county and region, we have the necessary infrastructure to support local and foreign investors to tap emerging agricultural and industrial opportunities," Kogos said.

Principal Secretary for Industrialisation Francis Owino and Agricultural Finance Corporation chairman Franklin Bett were among those present at the event.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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