Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, has pledged to invest a whopping Sh50 billion into the East African country’s agricultural sector should he win the presidential election, come August.
Over a five-year period, Ruto promises to invest at least Sh500 billion shillings, approximately USD$4.2 billion, in small companies and agriculture. To increase harvests, this investment would also include seed and animal feed supplies. Ruto’s so-called Bottom-Up economic approach, in which he attempts to direct government resources to sectors that can produce the most jobs, made farming stand out in his manifesto as an important component.
Moment of reckoning
On 9 August 2022, Kenya will hold a general election to choose a new president, governors, and MPs. In the most recent surveys, former prime minister Raila Odinga, Ruto’s major competitor, is slightly ahead.
Ruto and Kenya’s current president Uhuru Kenyatta, reportedly had a disagreement regarding the inflated cost of living in the East African country. According to president Kenyatta, the cost of living in Kenya has been pushed up by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, Ruto said the increased cost of living is pushing up agricultural production, but this would not be an issue had the fertiliser subsidy not been withdrawn.
In March 2022, Kenyatta made the decision to withdraw a Sh5.7 billion fertiliser subsidy from the country’s supplementary budget. The Treasury allegedly withdrew the full sum intended to protect farmers from the increasing prices of fertiliser, according to the Agriculture Committee of the National Assembly.
Now, Ruto declared that his administration would increase the production of important goods including rice, milk, and edible oils. He intends to accomplish this by giving farmers access to capital at affordable rates. He promised to increase Kenya’s agricultural extension services if elected.
Kenya in a ‘debt hole’
Additionally, Ruto claimed that the nation is “in a debt hole” and that the single highest expense in the recurrent budget is debt payment. Without providing further information on how he intends to manage government liabilities, Ruto remarked, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
Odinga has a 39% to 35% advantage over Ruto among potential voters, according to a May poll by Nairobi-based Tifa Research. This is the first time the opposition leader has edged out the vice president.