Considerations for Agricultural sector reform in Bungoma County
If I were to become the Governor of Bungoma County, in relation to the agricultural sector, my first agenda would be to put in place a robust and transformative agricultural policy. Such a policy would reality but also vision driven.
The reality in Bungoma in the agricultural sector is characterized by opportunity but also challenges. Opportunity is in terms of availability of fertile land, availability of human capital, availability of investors keen on agribusiness and green revolution related initiatives, ready market for agricultural commodities, virgin ground for value addition etc.
Challenges exist due to lack of facilitative freedoms, poor knowledge sharing systems, lack of capacity among farmers and extension workers, lack of access to credit, seasonality of produce, reliance on rain fed production, lack of reliable inputs, market information distortions, subdivision of land, lack of disposable income among farmers, exploitation by middlemen, farmers lacking bargaining power and lack of exposure among farmers.
I would institute a ten year plan that is anchored on the following:
Identify high potential value chains that could easily create a ripple effect if the potential is harnessed. In Bungoma, my government would focus on the following crops; maize, beans, cassava, sorghum, millet, kales, traditional vegetables, tomatoes, onions, chillies, sugarcane, coffee and bananas. In terms of animals, I would focus on cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and rabbits
Seek to establish a knowledge based agri-economy through creating partnerships between the county and research institutions, innovation actors and international generators and distributors of agricultural knowledge and related inventions/innovations
Establish a robust county extension service tasked with developing the specific crop or animal products value chain.
Build capacity of local human capital in agricultural best practices through county government run projects in partnership with private sector or development partners.
Introduce village/ward agricultural boards or cooperatives to become an organized structure through which community led extension services, information sharing, marketing and sourcing for inputs can be done
Developing each value chain through innovations that add value at each level in the value chain
Create a county agriculture development fund managed through a partnership with a commercial financial institution to ensure farmers in the county can access cheap loans/credit facility
Provide improved breeds of animals through cooperatives on credit to farmers for sustainable access to improved and better yielding breeds
For each crop value chain, encourage innovation and aggregating for leverage, through village or ward agricultural boards/ cooperatives
In partnership with private sector, source for farm inputs in bulk and innovatively sell to farmers cheaply through village agricultural boards
Seek international partners towards acquiring and disseminating technology that facilitates intensification of agriculture, appropriate diversification on small holder farms and enhancing productivity
Work around village/ ward agricultural boards to strategically source for required agricultural produce e.g. sugar, maize, beans in a manner that ensures my people have access to cheap food all year round.
Work closely with national government to ensure the county has a role in stocking of avail cereal Silos for the local market
Seek partnerships with investors ready to activate and grow given agricultural value chains through agro-processing but also facilitating access to regional and international markets.
Ensure the agricultural ministry works closely with ministry of youth, gender and culture to create self-employment for youth through agribusiness related initiatives