Politics and policy
MPs push for transfer of Sh34bn to agriculture
Posted Thursday, May 24 2012 at 19:48
A House committee is pushing for the transfer of Sh34 billion, intended for irrigation and importation of maize, to the Agriculture ministry to boost food production.
This comes as Agriculture committee chairman John Mututho intensifies opposition to flood irrigation practised by National Irrigation Board (NIB) in favour of drip irrigation.
The committee said the Sh17 billion allocated to NIB which is under the Ministry of Water should be moved to Agriculture ministry.
It wants Sh17 billion requested (but unallocated) for purchase of 5.7 million bags of maize for the strategic grain reserves, under the fiscal risk or pending expenditure vote in the Ministry of Finance, given to Kilimo House.
“These monies, Sh34 billion, should be used to implement a pilot study of drip irrigation immediately in selected areas of the country,” the committee said in its report on budgetary allocations.
Mr Mututho on Monday threatened to mobilise MPs to cut all funding to NIB for flood irrigation which he described as “prone to abuse and waste of public money.”
On arrival from Israel where he led a delegation of MPs and officials from NIB on a fact-finding mission on irrigation infrastructure technologies, Mr Mututho asked the State to phase out flood irrigation and replace it with drip irrigation.
The committee, in its report to Parliament, made real its threat by recommending redirection of irrigation and maize importation funds to crop production using drip irrigation.
“The committee reiterates its recommendations that irrigation sector, NIB and the Strategic Grain Reserves (SGR) be reverted to the Ministry of Agriculture which is in charge of food production and with the capacity to deal with irrigation matters,” it said.
Consequently, NIB’s budget should be re-allocated and enhanced to take on board all the small and large irrigation schemes in the country, the committee said.
The team called on MPs to adopt its recommendations to ban maize importation and the funds set aside to boost production.
“The monies set aside for maize importation should be used to initiate small-scale irrigation schemes utilising drip irrigation.”
The MPs told the government to fast-track development of a fertiliser factory to tame the high costs.
“The committee concurs with the public that price of Di Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) should not be more than Sh1,600 per 50 kilo bag and that of Calcium Ammonium Phosphate (CAN) should not exceed Sh1,000 per 50 Kg bag and that small-scale farmers should be given farm inputs including seeds and fertiliser free of charge.
Currently, the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is distributing government fertilizer to farmers at Sh1,600 for CAN and Sh2,500 for DAP.