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January 22, 2019

Duplication of roles affecting farmers' productivity

Devolution of agricultural services to county government has led to duplication of roles, according to a new report.

The report, released by Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, indicates that while both the national and county governments are providing subsidised fertiliser, farmers’ productivity has not improved.

Timothy Njagi, a researcher at the institute, says that 25 per cent of farmers still do not use feriliser even with the subsidies.

“This is a clear indication that we still have farmers that are not using fertiliser yet both governments claim to provide subsidies. One wonders where this fertiliser goes to,” he said last week during the launch of the report in Nairoibi.

The report also shows that devolution also brought confusion and people still do not know where they belong.

“Extension services were devolved but you have counties that have employed their own agricultural extension officers who have less experience unlike those who were previously employed by the government,” Njagi noted, adding that this has affected service delivery to farmers.

He added that as much as devolving majority of the functions to the county governments provided a great opportunity to transform small holder agriculture, there is need to clarify devolved functions.

“The transition process was mismanaged, leading to the current confusion on mandates between the two levels of government. This confusion has further lead to weak planning and budgetary allocations processes, there is also poor coordination between county and national governments,” he said.

The research was carried out in 16 counties in Western, Rift valley, Central and Eastern regions. It touched on land scarcity, climate change, input intensification, crop insurance, subsidy programs, extension services, devolution and how they affect small holder agriculture.

It sought to provide evidence based options to inform policy formulation and the effects of some of the programmes government has launched on agriculture.

Though there has been increased funding to the sector, the report recommends increase funding to cater for increased functions at the county level.

“There is need for county government to purposefully target improving smallholder farmers participation in planning and make their voices heard,” Njagi said.

He noted the agricultural sector in the national budget is below 10 per cent hence priority should be put towards strengthening budget and planning making processes at county level.

“Counties should also address the human resource challenges as currently, the ratio of one agricultural extension officer is 1000 farmers as opposed to the required 1:400 farmers,” the researcher said.

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