President Kibaki is conducted on a tour of the Kimathi University stand by Prof. Paul Kioni during the official opening of the 2010 ASK Nyeri National Show, Central Province Written ByPS, Thu, Sep 16, 2010 President Mwai Kibaki has urged politicians to tone down the distractive debate on sharing of seats in the devolved and central governments and instead focus their energies on implementation of the new constitution. President Kibaki, who was speaking Thursday during the official opening of the Nyeri National Show at Kibiruini showground in Central Kenya, reminded leaders that their election was and remained a prerogative of the wananchi. This year's ASK show theme is "Driving Agribusiness in attaining food sufficiency and Vision 2030". President Kibaki, who is the ASK patron, particularly appealed to Kenyans to work with the Government in implementing the new constitution which will lay the foundation for a more robust economy. "As the process of implementing the new constitution gets underway, I appeal to Kenyans to demonstrate tolerance and deliberate on issues soberly," the Head of State said. In this regard, the President reminded politicians and other stakeholders to focus more on continuous education to wananchi on the many development opportunities provided by the new constitution. President Kibaki emphasized that the spirit of the new constitution is to have in place laws that will best serve the interests of Kenyans and the country. Said the President, "As we deliberate on the implementation of the constitution, let us all be informed and guided by this overriding goal as well as by the desire to promote harmony and a shared sense of direction". President Kibaki, once again, reassured that the Government will continue to put in place measures to strengthen the economy with input from leaders and players in all sectors. The Head of State enumerated the various steps taken by the Government to promote the growth of the agricultural sector in the country. Among the measures announced by the President, include promotion of the use of fertilizer and quality seeds through various interventions and making affordable credit accessible to farmers through the revived Agricultural Finance Corporation. President Kibaki said the Government is now involved in the procurement and distribution of fertilizer with a view to subsidizing prices, a programme which has so far worked well with over 70 per cent reduction of fertilizer prices last year. "Last year, 962 farmers in the Central region got loans amounting to 204 million shillings from the Agricultural Finance Corporation. To take credit closer to the farmers, the Corporation will open a Branch in Karatina to serve farmers in Mathira and Mukurewini districts," noted the President. He exhorted beneficiaries to pay their loans promptly so that the Agricultural Finance Corporation can continue to serve farmers in the country in a sustainable manner. Saying that rural electrification and infrastructure were critical to agro-processing, the Head of State reiterated the Government's commitment and determination to continue to allocate more resources to such development programmes. Over the last four years, President Kibaki pointed said, the Government has ensured that most of the shopping centres and markets are connected to the national electricity grid. Saying electric power facilitated cold storage to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce including milk, President Kibaki urged farmers to take advantage of the availability of power to start cottage industries to add value to agricultural products through processing and packaging. On infrastructure development, the President singled out Thika-Magumu and the Nyeri-Nyahururu roads being rehabilitated at a total cost of 2.5 billion shillings as some of the road projects undertaken by the Government in the region. Other roads now under improvement include the Nyahururu-Gilgil road at a cost of 930 million shillings and Sagana-Makutano road at a cost of 480 million shillings, President Kibaki said. "The Upland-Ruiru road is planned to be improved at a cost of 53 million shillings and the Kerugoya-Kutus road at a cost of 71 million shillings. Together with these major roads, work will continue on rural roads to connect farmers and traders to the market," the President said. Turning to agricultural production, President Kibaki pointed out that the Government has initiated several small scale irrigation projects at a cost of 178 million shillings while facilitating the rehabilitation of those that had stalled. Said President Kibaki: "There is great potential for production of horticultural crops through small scale irrigation and the use of green houses in this region." He commended tea farmers for their efforts in producing quality tea and assured that the Government will continue to pay close attention to tea farming by providing a conducive regulatory and policy environment. "In this regard, the Government is now implementing the Tea Regulation of 2009 and the amendments of the Tea Act are already in Parliament. I urge farmers to take advantage of the good international prices to grow more tea," observed the Head of State. With regard to coffee, President Kibaki said farmers in the country have in the last three years benefited from the Coffee Development Fund to the tune of 248 million shillings. In this connection, the President encouraged farmers to take up more crop development loans from the Coffee Development Fund which attracts a lower interest rate. On research, the Head of State said the Coffee Research Foundation has released four new coffee varieties called Batian which are resistant to coffee Berry Disease, a development which is a major breakthrough as the Coffee Berry Disease is a major problem in coffee production. President Kibaki expressed the Government's commitment to ensuring that the foundation avails the seedlings to farmers before the October rains. Turning to rice production, the President announced that the Government plans to introduce high yielding upland rice varieties that can be grown without irrigation. "This type of rice has been shown to do well in this region. I encourage farmers to take advantage of this technology to improve production," the President said. Other speakers included Livestock Development Minister Dr. Mohamed Kuti, ASK National Chairman Mrs. Alice Kalya and Nyeri National Show Chairman Mr. James Kahiro. Earlier, the President officially opened the newly constructed ASK office block and made a mobile tour of various winning stands including Agricultural Finance Corporation, Kimathi Institute University College, New Kenya Cooperative Creameries, Kiambu East District Development Committee (DDC), the Cooperative movement, Biashara Sacco, JKUAT and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. President Kibaki also presented prizes and certificates to winning exhibitors in various classes.