Deputy President William Ruto has announced an all-inclusive conversation that starts with farmers and SMEs during a meeting with a section of Nyanza leaders in Nakuru.
Ruto who met the leaders on Monday, said they agreed on a framework of engagement after listing 13 key areas that needed economic development.
“Patriotic Kenyans will be brought on board to facilitate this comprehensive, all-encompassing national engagement,” he said.
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Ruto said the conversation will culminate in a national economic charter that embodies aspirations of, and our commitments to Kenyans at the grassroots.
“This is the new conversation. This is the new politics,” he said.
“The most important conversation is on the empowerment of small businesses, increasing farmers’ earnings and creating an enabling environment that rewards hard work.”
The deputy President listed 13 key areas that include; revival of the sugar industry, optimal exploitation of the blue economy, rejuvenation of the cotton sector, bananas, mining among others.
Ruto said there exists a huge opportunity in Nyanza region being the backbone of the sugar industry in the country.
“A concern was raised whether we need to start a conversation on the competitiveness of the sector,” Ruto said.
On optimal exploitation of the Blue Economy, Ruto said Kenya needs to meet the local demand through local production and bettering the lives of the fishing community.
On rejuvenation of the cotton sector, he said the revival of KICOMI and Mountex remains a priority in providing sustainable market for farmers.
Ruto said the region recognised the need for adoption of tissue culture bananas to enhance productivity, modern collection systems, storage facilities and local value addition to maximise earnings for farmers.
On livestock and dairy production, he said participants appreciated the need to enhance milk production to make the region self-sufficient. Ruto said this calls for investments around breeding, collection and cooling and enhanced extension services.
On coffee, it was agreed that there is a need for investment in accessibility of high-quality seed varieties, mini-processing and milling in the region.
On small and Micro-enterprises, it was agreed that there will be modalities to support farmers and small and micro-enterprises to access credit to boost productivity.
Ruto also said there needs to be a keener focus on the exploitation of rice farming in the region, particularly expansion and operationalization of irrigations schemes that includes Ahero, Oluch-Kimira and Lower Kuja schemes among others.
On infrastructure (Roads, Water & Sanitation, Electricity, Air Strips etc), of priority in this area is the Lake Region Ring Road and upgrading of the Kisumu international airport cargo division.
On mining, the need to fully exploit the existing natural resources in the region that includes gold in Migori, Soap stone in Kisii, oil in Kano/Nyakach and Iron Ore in Homa Bay.
With high value crops, there was a call for enhancement of Agricultural Production in general entailing underexploited potentials like Tobacco, Avocado, Mango, Sorghum, Sweet potato, Banana, Maize, Soya and Sunflower.
On tourism, focusing on relevant aspects of the Western Tourism Circuit, cultural heritages, creative industry, and sports as a business was emphasized.
The deputy president said the engagement will progressively cover all counties, regions and all sectors of our economy.
“We have already held similar consultations with the Mount Kenya region. We have also planned similar engagements and consultations with Western, Northern, the Coast, Nairobi, Eastern and Rift Valley regions,” he said.
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