President William Ruto wants Kenya to halve its value of food imports to Sh250 billion in 10 years, as he directed the agriculture ministry to urgently release fertiliser to farmers in readiness for the planting season.

Dr Ruto said his administration has invested enormous resources on farm inputs with the aim of properly equipping farmers for production so as to attain food security.

“Our imports on food stuff, including wheat and edible oils have surpassed the Sh500 billion mark and this import bill is not sustainable. We can produce enough food and in the next five years, my administration wants to cut it to Sh250 billion and completely do away with food imports in 10 years,” Dr Ruto added.

The President said the government had imported enough fertiliser with the aim of ensuring farmers are well equipped to produce enough food and reduce expenditure on imports.

“I have given the ministry strict instructions that fertiliser should reach all corners of this country so that it can be accessible to all farmers. Since we started subsidising production, it’s paying off and the cost of basic food commodities has come down,” he said.

The President spoke at Nkubu market on his final day of his three-day tour of Meru County, where he was accompanied by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi and his Public Service counterpart Moses Kuria.

Other leaders present were Senator Kathuri Murungi, Governor Kawira Mwangaza and his deputy Isaac Mutuma, Woman Representative Elizabeth Kailemia and all the nine Meru MPs.

The President launched several road projects and an irrigation scheme in Imenti South, saying his administration would support farmers by providing infrastructure for irrigation.

“Our intention is to shift from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation is our bold and deliberate plan to enhance food production and ensure that we expand economic opportunities in the agriculture sector,” he said when he commissioned the Sh150 million Mweru Umoja irrigation project that will put more than 500 acres of land under irrigation and benefit over 5,000 farmers.

The Head of State also pledged Sh500 million for infrastructure development at Mariene University, a campus of Meru University of Science and Technology (Must). He also launched ICT labs at Mitunguu and Mukiria technical colleges.

While launching affordable housing projects in Meru Town, the President said Meru will host 10,000 units which will provide more than 20,000 jobs.

On funding of technical institutes, Dr Ruto said capitation for TVETS had been doubled from Sh5 billion to Sh10 billion.

He said the Education ministry would employ 2,000 more tutors to address the shortage of teachers in the institutions.

Mr Gachagua told the President that leaders in Mt Kenya region were solidly behind him.

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