March 4th is just around the corner and Kenya’s six presidential hopefuls are setting out their stalls to entice voters. The decision as to who will set their feet in State House will be determined by Kenyans in just 44 days.
The manner in which Kenyans vote is determined by three main factors; tribal lines, political parties and media influence. Fortunately the number of Kenyans who are going against the grain and making informed decisions as to who they will vote for is increasing.
MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION
Each of the presidential hopefuls has presented (at least in part) their manifesto to the people. The Kenya Forum is keen on highlighting the pillars of interests that each candidate aims to make an impact on if elected, in line with Vision 2030, not just as a way of sensitising Kenyans to make informed decisions during the elections but also to ensure that we have something to gauge the performance of the leader who will govern the country in the next five years. “Ahadi ni deni/A promise is a debt”, goes an old Swahili saying.
Launched on 30th October 2006 by President Mwai Kibaki, the Vision 2030 main objective is “to help transform Kenya into a middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030”. It aims to achieve an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 10% per annum beginning in 2012.
Vision 2030 is based on three main pillars which are economic, social and political pillars and each of these presidential hopefuls has highlighted his visions on the same.
On the economic pillar, six key sectors which include, Tourism, Agriculture, revamping the wholesale and retail trade sector, Manufacture, BPO and Financial Services have been highlighted as the key drivers for achievement of the economic vision.
The Kenya Forum has observed that all the six presidential hopefuls have at least three goals in common as far as AGRICULTURE is concerned (which falls under the economic section of Vision 2030).
KENYA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – CANDIDATES’ MANIFESTOS
UHURU KENYATTA became the first Kenyan leader to launch a people’s manifesto, harnessing the power of social media in an effort to involve every Kenyan in the creation of his manifesto.
Kenyatta promises to put at least a million acres of land under modern irrigation and expand agricultural production within five years (that is, in one term in the office).
He also intends to initiate and implement within two years, a public-private partnership insurance scheme to cushion livestock and crop farmers from risks.(Read more).
RAILA ODINGA is of the opinion that the people of Kenya deserve much more than a list of their problems and promises and that under his leadership his government will offer a radical, reforming and responsible administration.
Odinga promises that his government will invest in modern, hygienic landing bays, storage and processing facilities, and efficient communication infrastructure on inland fishing areas.
Raila also pledges to provide funding in partnership with the private sector to support groups engaged in agriculture as well as moving the country from overreliance on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation. In November last year, the Prime Minister sealed a deal with Israel’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Labour, Shalom Shimhon, that would see over 10,000 hectares of land in Turkana put under irrigation. (Read more).
PETER KENNETH was the first presidential hopeful to unveil his political manifesto, which listed 13 sectors he will give priority to if Kenyans elect him to succeed president Kibaki. These are: national security, food security and employment infrastructure, health care, education, tourism, slum upgrade, water, agriculture, the Diaspora, environment and manufacturing.
Kenneth says that he intends to increase acreage under food production with specific proposals for creating 10 major irrigation schemes
Peter Kenneth also promises that his government will subsidise the cost of agricultural production through low interest financing of agricultural inputs and zero-rating of all agricultural inputs for VAT. (Read more).
MARTHA KARUA, the only woman in the race, also unveiled a comprehensive six-policy pillar as her manifesto in July last year. These are: Food Security, Good Governance, Job Creation & Youth Engagement, Health and Education.
Karua promises to operationalise the national food nutrition and nutrition security policy and achieve its targets by 2015.
She also plans to commit 10 per cent of the annual budget to agricultural development as required by continental policy standards, as well as transforming the dry lands of northern Kenya into food production enclaves through massive irrigation schemes. (Read more:)
MUSALIA MUDAVADI says that his government will be at the forefront of reforming the conduct and character of politics.
Mudavadi assures voters that his team will restructure the economy to work for all Kenyans. “We will transform the taxation system and resource allocation structures to ensure that all Kenyans in all sectors of the economy find real support to earn a decent living”, he said.
He also promises to create 2 million jobs by promoting the production of oil crops which will enable the court to save 50 billion shillings in foreign exchange currently being used for importation of 600,000 tonnes of palm oil annually, as well as increase milk production to 15billion litres from the current 5billion per year. (Read more).
PROF. OLE KIYIAPI promises Kenyans a leadership of integrity and servitude, devoid of corruption and tribalism when he launched his presidential bid.
Kiyiapi maintains that the government will invest a lot of resources in research which he believes is an important aspect in ensuring that there is maximum food production.
He also plans to ensure that an elaborate network extension system is put in place at the country level to help farmers adopt and apply modern farming techniques which will ensure high crop production. (Read more).
Well, those are the visions that each candidate has for the country on the agricultural sector, which happens to be the second largest sector of the country’s economy.
The Kenya Forum has observed that all of the candidates are keen on irrigation which experts have listed has the only long-term solution that will ensure Kenya acquires food security especially on the arid and semi-arid parts of the country.
Irrigation projects that have been introduced in some parts of Turkana have proved beyond doubts that irrigation can save the northern communities from starvation in future. The Morulem Irrigation Scheme (MIS) for instance which sits on 1,500 acres of land has changed the face of Turkana. Spanning over three decades MIS currently feeds 3,000 families. The gravity-fed irrigation uses water from Kerio River situated about 10km away.
It is, of course, all easier said than done but thanks to the new constitution we have a right as Kenyans to demand for performance from our leaders and hold them accountable.