Statement on the 2019/2020 budget by the Route To Food Initiative

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Following yesterday’s presentation in Parliament of the budget for the 2019/20 financial year, the Route to Food Initiative wishes to state as follows:

▪ Government spending on agriculture and food security remains inadequate, poorly targeted, and cannot lead to the realisation of the right to food (food that is adequate and of acceptable quality) for majority of Kenyans, as enshrined in theConstitution.

▪ Kenya continues to fall short on its commitment made in the Maputo Declaration, to spending 10% of its budget on agriculture. Moreover, budgetary allocations that would support the constitutional obligation to progressively realise the right to food, are not evident. Allocations to agriculture are 2.53% of total voted expenditure,down from 3.5% in FY2016/17.

▪ Budgetary allocations do not reflect the political prominence and commitment that food security has been given under the Big Four Agenda.

▪ There are few measures in place to directly address food and nutrition security. The principal policy focus is on large-scale industrial agriculture, expanded irrigation and cash crops, such as coffee, sugar, cotton and miraa. There is needto pursue a feed-thyself-first approach, before feed-the-market.

▪ Food security coverage was limited to allocations to the Strategic Food Reserve,with no mention of production of food crops and economic access (affordability and availability).

▪ It is laudable that there is an allocation for smallholder dairy commercialisation. Overall, the budget statement was not responsive to needs of Kenya’s smallholder farmers, who despite consistently producing over 70 per cent of the food, are worst affected by food poverty. Measures lack focus on extension services, food safety and food diversity, thus undermining food and nutrition security.

We call upon Parliament to reconsider the budget, increase allocation to agriculture and align it to the realisation of food rights.

Layla Liebetrau Project Lead, Route to Food Initiative

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