KENYA – President Uhuru Kenyatta recently announced an economic stimulus programme worth Sh53.7 billion (US$501.3m), aimed to help the country recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the agriculture industry, the government has set aside Sh3 billion (US$28m) for the supply of farm inputs through e-vouchers targeting 200,000 small-scale farmers.

This is meant to cushion farmers from the effects of adverse weather, and to secure food supply chains in the post Covid-19 period and into the future.

Under this element, another Sh1.5 billion (US$14m) has been set aside to assist flower and horticultural producers to access international markets, in a period where there is a shortage of flights into and out of the country, reports The East African.

For a country that is highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture the government has allocated Sh850 million (US$7.9m) to rehabilitate wells, water pans and underground tanks in arid and semi-arid areas and another Sh540 million (US$5m) for the Greening Kenya Campaign.

This will mitigate the impact of deforestation and climate change and enhance the provision of water facilities.

The stimulus package follows the World Bank approval of a US$43 million International Development Assistance (IDA) credit for Kenya, part the larger US$500m Emergency Locust Response Project (ELRP) in Africa and the Middle East.

The ELRP focuses on providing immediate assistance to help poor and vulnerable farmers, herders, and rural households overcome one of the worst locust upsurges in decades.

The first countries to be financed under the initial phase of the program are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, with a total financing package of US$160 million, reports APO.

The Kenya US$43m component of the ELRP will provide immediate surveillance and locust management measures to halt the spread of the pests.

It will finance grants to an estimated 70,000 pastoral households and 20,000 farmers to quickly rehabilitate crop and livestock production systems disrupted by the locust swarms.

In Djibouti US$6 million will help strengthen its regulatory framework and institutional capacity for ‘Early Warning’ preparedness and response against future locust outbreaks, as well as provide cash transfers to affected households.

For Ethiopia, US$63 million will scale up surveillance and control measures, in addition to provide seed and fertilizer packages to more than 150,000 farmers to ensure planting during the upcoming cropping season and, in pastoralist areas, emergency fodder to more than 113,000 households to safeguard their productive assets.

Lastly Uganda has been fashioned with US$48 million for surveillance and control measures.

It will also finance interventions to protect and rehabilitate livelihoods through temporary employment programs and activities that boost resilience, such as water and soil conservation activities, the adoption of agro-forestry technologies and practices, and the build out of market infrastructure.