By Mwanaharusi Jilo

Mombasa, Kenya – President William Ruto’s first year in office has been marked by significant efforts to address the challenges facing Kenyans, particularly the rising cost of living. His administration’s flagship initiative, the Kenya Kwanza intervention plan, has centered on revitalizing the agricultural sector to empower producers and ensure sustainable food security.

The regular fuel price hikes throughout his first year in office have been a cause for concern for many Kenyans. Consumers faced an unprecedented cost burden as fuel prices reached alarming heights, impacting transportation costs, inflation, and the overall cost of living.

In his inauguration speech a year ago, President Ruto outlined his strategy to lower the cost of living by addressing the high cost of farm inputs, particularly fertilizer. He pointed out that the decline in maize production, with this year’s harvest projected to be below 30 million bags compared to the usual 40 million bags, was a direct consequence of the unaffordability of farm inputs.

True to his commitment, within just six days of assuming office, the President made subsidized fertilizer available at the National Cereals and Produce Board, reducing the price from Ksh 6,500 to Ksh 3,500 per 50kg bag. This was only the first phase, as the President launched the second phase of the fertilizer subsidy program in August 2023, further lowering the price to Ksh 2,500 per bag.

Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi expressed optimism about this year’s maize harvest, revealing that over 60 million bags are expected to be harvested across the country, thanks to the subsidy program. This increase in maize production could help alleviate the burden of high food prices on Kenyan households.

President Ruto’s commitment to the agricultural sector extends beyond maize. He has also pledged to improve the tea and coffee industry, crucial sources of foreign income for Kenya. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has been tasked with leading the revitalization of these sectors.

Speaking on behalf of the President, DP Gachagua emphasized his mission to restore the dignity of the coffee sector. However, despite these efforts, frustrations among coffee farmers in the Mount Kenya region have persisted. Some have even resorted to uprooting their coffee plants due to poor market returns.

As President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza government enters its second year in office, Kenyans are eagerly waiting for the promised reduction in the cost of living outlined in their manifesto. While significant strides have been made in the agriculture sector, challenges remain. The government remains steadfast in its determination to invest in agriculture as a means to lower living standards and improve the economic well-being of its citizens.

With four years remaining in their tenure, President Ruto and his administration are poised to continue their efforts to address the pressing issue of the cost of living and to transform Kenya’s agricultural sector, ensuring a brighter future for all Kenyans.