National Dialogue in Kenya for Political Peace and Development

18 mins read

Everyone will see that I purposely left out the big political items. There are better people to handle those than me. I decided to focus on the economics and basically brought up what I have been writing about for years.

I also specifically focused on the Nyanza economy because I have direct knowledge of how things are going on there economically and I have investments there.

The good news about all this is that Kenyans face the same conditions everywhere and whatever happens in one part of the country, can be applied anywhere else in the country. I am sure other Kenyans will come up with economic development ideas in areas and activities they are familiar with.

We can handle the politics but if we don’t address our economic needs, we are dead.


I intend to send my public participation document to the Azimio and Ruto talks because they have asked Kenyans to present their views in writing to them this week. This is my first draft and I am going to improve it and make it shorter.

The great news so far about the National Dialogue for Peace in Kenya is that both parties, namely Azimio and Kenya Kwanza have agreed on the issues to be at the center of the talks and it reflects what Kenyans are striving to achieve.

The issue now is not to focus on what happens when the talks fail to achieve anything, but on what happens if the talks achieve what Kenyans want. Let us not be afraid to succeed and look for failure and instead, look for success and embrace that as Kenyans.

  1. Cost of Living.

It is encouraging to Kenyans that the National Dialogue Committee agreed to address the cost of living as an important issue for Kenyans. It would have been a disaster to ignore that because these talks are about Kenyans and not just the politicians.

Let’s deal with practical things that can be done right now.

  • Eliminate the 8% proposed VAT increase on fuel because it will affect the prices of every single thing Kenyans use. The food Kenyans buy is in many cases produced by industries that buy fuel for the food production.

         Once the fuel price goes up the prices of most food items will go up. Bread is produced using fuel so bread prices will go up. Cooking oil is produced using fuel so the price there for consumers will go up. You need fuel to produce margarines so that goes up too.

And then every food product even agricultural products like tomatoes, onions, potatoes, sikuma wiki, and of the foods Kenyans use are transported from the production point of the market and if fuel price is up it means transporting those products is more expensive and that cost will be transferred to Kenyans buying their food.

All this means that in reality, the 8% increase in fuel costs will lead to a 10% – 20% increase in the price of basic food items that Kenyans need every day.

  • Develop a National Agriculture and Food Production program.

Right now many Kenyans have idle land where they don’t grow anything. People don’t have tractors to plough the land in time. They do not have the right seeds to grow maize, rice, avocados or anything else, they do not have fertilizers.

In fact, Kenyans are saying that the government-provided fertilizers are limited to specific communities and tribes that the current government thinks are friendly to them. That is scary for our nationhood.

Let Kenya build a system of agriculture and food production where your tribe does not matter, remove the idea of shareholders in government resources because Kenya is one country and all Kenyans pay taxes to the government that must work with every Kenyan regardless of who they vote for in any election.

  • Every Kenyan with a piece of land for farming should have access to ploughing tractors at the right time.

I know that because I own a ploughing tractor in Kenya at my home. It is crazy at the beginning of the farming season. And even worse the rains makes the roads so bad that for many farmers no tractor can reach their land and plough it for crops.

Hand digging of land can’t work now, can it?  Oxen ploughing is gone I mean even oxen are gone.

So how do Kenyans plough their land to produce food and do everything else to add to what our lands, rivers, lakes, magnificent wildlife, and great peoples everywhere already offer the country?

I know about ploughing in Kenya because I own a ploughing tractor in my home town. It cost me Sh 3 million as a second-hand machine from Nakuru. My nephew took it to work immediately. Then he had to buy a water tank from Eldoret for Sh. 1.8 million to sustain the farmers and the construction people he was working with. And then a trailer for Sh. 1 million.

Even that covers a small portion of the farmers who need him when the season is on. Right now it is Sh 3,000 – 5,000 to plough one acre of land and most Kenyan peasants cannot afford that.

The biggest problem small-scale family Kenyan farmers face is that they cannot plough their land. They cannot dig it by hand and the oxen farming of the old days is history. So people are starving with their land lying fallow right in front of them.

Until and unless the Kenyan national government and the counties figure out how to assist peasant farmers to plough their land and plant crops yearly starvation and the high cost of living will remain permanent in our country and all the talk about climate change is just comedy to entertain politicians.

We have to use every piece of land in our country and plant something on it. Plant food crops. Plant vegetables. Plant fruits. Plant trees. If every piece of land in Kenya has something valuable planted on it we shall have won the battle to reduce the cost of living and shall have defeated climate change in our country.

Plough The Land Program is my proposal for our national and county governments. The two levels of government must set up a program where every small-scale farmer in Kenya will have an affordable way to plough their land. Then get them seeds and fertilizers and we are on to the stage of a country that can feed itself, export food and grow to the next economic level.

My parents were not even farmers. My mother was a kindergarten teacher who loved to make cakes for the kids which made me very mad because she would not allow me to eat the cakes until I came to the kindergarten school. My father was a tailor who started his job in Thika as a teenager and later settled in Wangarot which is where he met my mother.

These people had their land covered with every food crop we needed. And had a thousand chickens on the farm which was crazy because the chickens just roam around all over the place and somehow they all come back home. All the food was on the farm. Why can’t we do that now? That is an issue for the National Dialogue Committee to figure out.

Help Kenyans to eat from home. That is how most of us grew up. My family had 8 acre of land and all of it was ploughed and functioning when I grew up. The upside was for maize and beans. The downside is a water catchment area with a little river just off the highway.

Diversify Food Production and Processing Across the country.

I want to see Arrowroots, a great food crop grown in every part of Kenya. The farmers have developed a new variety of arrowroot that can grow everywhere.

Again I know about arrowroots from lived experience. I was in jail in Kamiti Medium and my prison guard boss took us to his home farm to dig out arrowroots. We were doing great then his kids came back from school and they saw us chatting and just doing our job. The kids started shouting “Wafungwa wana ongea”. The kids could not believe that prisoners were actually human beings. That is what their parents told them.

Let me give you an example of something called dryland arrowroots. It could be a great product for many parts of the country folks and it is great food. I got to know about arrow roots when I was in Kamiti prison. Our prison boss in my group which was supposed to do laundry had an arrowroot farm next to his house and he used to take us there to take care of his nduma and help harvest them.

The first thing that happened when we went there was his kids screaming at us. “Wafungwa wana ongea” they kept yelling. Apparently, their father and other prison guards had told them that prisoners were animals so they were shocked that we could actually talk and we were in fact human beings.

But Nduma is a great food product and our governors need to look at how to bring the crop to all parts of the county starting with establishing big nurseries for the dryland arrowroot so farmers can come there and get stuff and go plant it on their land. Once they get used to it, they will love it and grow a whole lot of it.

The dry land arrow root variety is ready for harvest after six months which is an advantage over other varieties which take up to nine months. It also produces long tubers measuring up to 70 centimeters. Since it is heavy, it is popular with business people and consumers

This is what Oxfam says about the great benefits from growing arrow roots and with this new version from Rwanda, we can grow arrow roots all over Kenya. The dryland arrowroot can grow anywhere and it can be used for everything including producing baby-feeding formulas at an industrial level. You can it eat everyday with stew and you can make bread with it.

Oxfam is very sure it is a great product that Kenyans should bring to their farming regime.

According to Daily Nation (Seeds of Gold), arrowroot farmers in Kenya can now double their yields, thanks to a new high-yielding and fast-maturing variety from Rwanda that has an average yield of 3 tonnes per acre in just six months.

The variety is available at Kalro, Thika. This is good news for farmers who are currently harvesting an average of 1.68 tonnes of arrowroots from the same size of land in eight months.

The hybrid variety requires less water compared to the traditional one, which is popular in the Kenyan market and hence can survive in semi-arid regions.

However, there is a sudden high demand for the tuber in the country due to increased health consciousness. Arrowroot leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals.

They are a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, and a very good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, niacin, potassium, copper, and manganese. Arrowroot corms are very high in starch and are a good source of dietary fiber.

One acre of upland arrowroots technology-grown tubers will accommodate 29,333 plants, which will yield 29,333 tubers sold at Sh 20 each, which translates to Sh 586,660 gross income.

Help Kenyans to build homes to live in. (Build My Own Home Program for Kenyans.)

  • .Nobody wants to live in grass huts anymore and the mabati houses are terrible with noise and heat. There is a big debate about the proposed Housing National Fund (Tax). You can have that debate all you want as politicians but the biggest issue for housing that Kenyans will be very happy with is how the national and county governments can help them build their own houses in their homes.

I know this because I am building a house in my land in Kenya. It is tough. It is expensive and if you don’t do it right you can lose all your investment when the building collapses. In my case, it is my sister who is building the house for me and she is an expert in the business because that is what she does for a living and she is really marvelous at it. We have done the whole house. Last three months we did the windows and doors. Now we are doing the floor and then the house is done.

Can the national and the county governments help Kenyans build their own houses? That is my proposal for the National Dialogue Team. The good thing about helping Kenyans build their own homes is that they already have the land to build the house and you are not buying that.

What they need are building materials and they will build their homes. After that, it is water and electricity they need in the homes and you have modern nice homes for Kenyans. What is wrong with that?

Here is a model of The Bondo Rural Strategic Devt Agency.

Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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