At least 30 per cent of public institutions’ produce procurement will soon be reserved for smallholder farmers in Kenya, this if yesterday’s memo by the Ministry of Agriculture is adopted by the Cabinet.
This is good news to millions of smallholder farmers in the country who are sometimes forced to sell their produce to middlemen at a throw away price due to poor market information, access and stiff competition from high producers.
“The purpose of this memorandum is to request Cabinet approval to recognize and list smallholder farmers under the preferential and reservation scheme and to direct that every public procuring entity ensures that 30 per cent of procurement value is allocated to farmers,” said Agriculture secretary Willy Bett.
According to the CS, the ministry intends to link small-scale farmers to the market through obligating all government agencies to buy their food supplies directly from them.
In order to effect this, the ministry is planning to create a database of all smallholder farmers in the country with each farmer issued with smart cards where their information will be fed in to lock out imposters keen on benefiting from the scheme
This move will see smallholder farmers pocket at least Sh15 billion per year, considering that government institutions spends close to Sh50 billion to source food.
Apart from benefiting smallholder farmers who accounts for almost 80 per cent of food in the country, the government is expected to save most of its funds.
Government institutions normally give out tenders to large suppliers who end up sourcing from smallholder farmers at low prices and later resell to institutions at exorbitant rates.
Even so, farmers have slim hopes of benefiting from the proposed deal, putting in mind that the 30 per cent government tenders promised to women and youths under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) plan is yet to be achieved 4 years later.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, smallholder farmers accounts for over 70 per cent of maize, 65 per cent of coffee, 50 per cent of tea 80 per cent of milk 85 per cent of fish and 70 per cent of beef.