Kenya post budget review: What the FY2019/20 budget means for food security
The Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury presented the FY 2019/20 Budget Statement to the National Assembly on 13 June 2019 based on the Printed Estimates of Recurrent and Development Expenditure and the Program Based Budget (PBB), finalised earlier in May.
Key insights from the budget, from a food and nutrition security perspective, are described in this article. In addition, you can download the full report and analysis of the budget for more detail.
Budgetary allocations to food and nutrition security in FY2019/2020
Agriculture and Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) has been allocated KES 51,678.8 Bn, an increase of KES 6.4 Bn or 14.1 percent over expenditure for FY2018/19 but lower than the BPS 2019 projections by KES 420mn. The level of spending represents 2.8% of Total Voted Expenditure, lower than the 2.9% expenditure allocated under BPS 2019 (February 2019).
Inadequate budgetary allocations to food and nutrition security
Kenya’s budgetary allocations to FNS remain inadequate for its citizens to progressively realise the right to food. The allocations are not consistent with an important economic sector that accounts for 34% of Kenya’s GDP, employs 56% of the labour force and generates 65% of the country’s merchandise goods exports. Further, expenditure on FNS as a share of National Government’s total voted expenditure continues to decline steadily. Growth in budget allocations to the sector are not keeping pace with the growth of the total budgets over the most recent 3 and 5 year periods.
Budget policy targeting
The National Budget does not yet prioritise public resources, fiscal incentives and policies for food production. It continues to place greater emphasis on large-scale commercial and industrial agriculture and to focus incentives on supporting agricultural outputs, including coffee, tea, textiles, sugarcane and miraa. The budget also reallocated significant sums of money away from areas important for food production including KES 2,608.9mn that was cut from the crops development Tax proposals to be presented in the Finance Bill 2019 similarly do not target measures for increasing agricultural production of food crops by small-scale farmers.
The trends of declining allocations of budgetary resources to the sector are likely to result in lower food production, growing food insecurity and an increase in the prevalence of undernourishment. We can expect rising food prices that undermine access and affordability of food. The health and nutrition status of the population, particularly the low income and vulnerable segment of the population, are mostly adversely affected. Kenyans need to be concerned about the trend of falling expenditures on agriculture and food; and the clear trend of other budget areas receiving priority in budget allocations.
At a national level, the RTFI calls for vigilance in implementation to cater for needs of smallholder farmers; clarity from National Treasury on allocations to FNS-related programmes – such as the cereal enhancement programme, strategic grain reserve, agricultural mechanisation and crop diversification; and the upscaling of micro-irrigation for schools. Agriculture is a devolved function, meaning in practice County Governments bear the responsibility for achieving food security. Accordingly, the progressive realisation of the right to food enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 are a joint responsibility of the National and County Governments. Independent of the central government, County Governors can, and should, allocate more of their own county budgets towards FNS.
Press statement issued by the Route to Food Initiative
Image: Celeste Wamiru, Editorial cartoonist and Illustrator