Why Agriculture Should Top in Uhuru’s Big Four Agenda

On 12th December 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta in his Jamhuri Day celebrations speech identified four key priority areas his last term would focus on if reelected to office. They were christened the Big Four Agenda and included, Universal Health Care (UHC), Affordable Housing, Manufacturing and Food Security. After his reelection, he has continued to expound on
them in his speeches especially during national holidays. A lot of attention seems to be on the first two as the pilot phase of the UHC has already been rolled out in Isiolo, Machakos, Nyeri and Kisumu counties. The Affordable Housing pillar has challenges especially with the workers’
unions opposed to the deductions to finance it. The manufacturing pillar has received lukewarm support with the cost of energy being reviewed. However, little is being said about the Food Security pillar. We cannot talk of food security and nutrition without talking of agriculture. This should be the most important and ought to receive much attention even in funds allocation. Agriculture contributes 51% of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) both directly and indirectly. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, over 70% of Kenya’s rural population depends on agriculture for livelihoods while it employs over 40% of the total population. The sector is the principal driver in the manufacturing sector
through provision of raw materials. Think of all the manufacturing firms that use agricultural raw materials and see the huge opportunities available for instance beer brewing companies, milk processing plants and flour millers et cetera. Already 15,000 small scale farmers are benefitting
in Western Kenya by growing sorghum which is an essential raw material for Keg production by East African Breweries. Country wide the company has over 50,000 farmers and this creates the much needed employment opportunities. Growth in the agricultural sector has been proven to be
over ten times effective in reducing poverty compared to growth in other sectors in Sub Saharan Africa. Agriculture could play a more and impactful role if it’s given the necessary attention.
According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics ( 2018), Kenya is a food net importer with one out of three Kenyans suffering from food insecurity and chronic malnutrition with over half of the country’s poor spending 50-70% of total income on food. Even in rural areas, where most of the farming takes place, 57% of food consumed is purchased. Almost 30% of the children in the country face stunted growth. Therefore to deal with some illnesses affecting the population
especially children, the government needs to focus on agriculture. A healthy population will also have a positive ripple effect on the economy. Investment in agriculture will also ensure households are food sufficient and the savings could be used to educate children or invest in
better housing. The surplus food can also be sold thus providing a source of income.
In conclusion, agriculture touches on the other three pillars of the Big Four while since over 70% of the rural poor depend on it for their livelihoods; proper investment in the sector will ensure that the inequality gap is bridged. For these reasons, the sector should top as it’s the surest way out of poverty for poor rural households which form the majority of the population.