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Agriculture value chain could use remedy strategy

The fourth Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation launched in 2018 – and runs through 2024 – aims at improved productivity and inclusiveness of agricultural market systems.

The strategy also aims at increased value addition, and competitiveness of diversified agricultural commodities for domestic and export markets.

The strategy aims to achieve objectives through strengthening market-oriented production, productivity, and processing of diversified agricultural commodities, through increased engagement of the private sector.

However, like all other sectors, the Covid-19 impeded this move by disrupting the agriculture supply chain.

While agricultural activities were allowed to continue during the Covid-induced lockdowns, along with the trade in foodstuffs even during strict measures to control the Covid-19 pandemic, sector operations were to a certain extent affected.

Among ways the sector was affected include restrictions on the movement of goods and people both within the country and for cross border trade, and a halt in the hospitality industry such as closure of hotels and restaurants, among others.

The transport costs for farm inputs such as fertilizers, and farm produce increased because there were few vehicles to transport them as a result of the conditions to comply with the measures to curb the pandemic.

During the time, there were few if any new investments capable of making a positive impact on the sector were undertaken.

The challenges require an adjusted strategy and remedial plan to allow resumption to the path and ensure that gains made pre-covid are not eroded. This will among other things ensure that farmers are not demotivated and that the objectives can be achieved by 2024.

Among the necessary adjustments is to review the incentives for entrants into the sector as investors to ensure that the value chain continues to grow.

Further ways include the consideration of a revolving fund to support capital injection for SMEs that will play a role in driving the farmers and other players to prosperity by availing much needed capital.

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