The United States Tuesday urged Kenya to identify areas of cooperation with the American government in terms of food security instead of constantly relying on handouts.
US Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, said in Nairobi that President Bara ck Obamaa?s administration was keen on creating partnerships to strengthen a cou ntry rather than making them dependent.
Vilsack said the US Department of Agriculture was eager to receiving information of what the country really wanted rather than stepping in with programmes that a re of no benefit to Kenya.
a?We are anxious to know what Kenya wants from us. This is not America coming i n and saying here is what we will do for you,a? Vilsack said, adding a?This is a partnership, we want you to tell us what you want from us.a?
He said the government needed to seriously consult with Kenyans to find what was of most importance to them so as to guide the US government prioritise its assi s tance.
a?We hope to be able to provide resources, not only monetary but also expertise and knowledge of scientists that we have back home that can be shared making a g reater impact to Kenyans.a?
During the G-8 meeting earlier this year, President Obama highlighted food secur ity as a high priority of his administration and had already committed a billion
dollars towards food security in developing countries.
The US Government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) a nd the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), supports a wide array of agricultura l development activities in Kenya and the region and supports the Kenya Agricultu r al Research Institute through a variety of capacity-building and technology deve l opment and transfer programmes since the 1960s.
Vilsack said from his observations, Kenya had great opportunity to boost agricul tural production if only it improved on land conservation techniques, seed techn o logy and appropriate use of fertilizer.
He said with improved food productivity, the country could also benefit financia lly by trading with other countries.
a?With surplus produce, you can engage in trade which brings in resources that help build stronger communities, cities and other opportunities and the country c an only grow from there,a? the Agriculture Secretary said.
The official was speaking when he donated food to Stara Rescue Centre and School in Kibera.
He hailed the school for giving children a decent meal, at least once a day and making them feel secure, which would ensure they become successful in life.
Vilsack, who said he started life as an orphan, just like most of the children, understood the value of having something to look forward to and urged other inst i tutions to chip in to ensure children have a bright future.
According to the schoola?s director, Josephine Mumo, they are catering for over 500 children who are orphans and HIV positive – thanks to donations from the Wo r ld Food Programme.
Mumo, however, appealed for more assistance so the school could even feed childr en during school holidays.