Government has declared this year as the ‘Year of Roads’; and though some of the urban road network is impressive, a closer look reveals deep inequalities as rural communities – particularly farming communities – lack motorable roads.
Therefore, we are using this space to appeal for duty-bearers to not only focus on upgrading urban road networks – which is important also, but they must spread their tentacles to our food producing communities that go through living hell to cart foodstuffs to market centres.
As a result of this, middlemen (in this case, market queens) reap windfall profits that are meant to go to the producer – who then are compelled to sell at give-away prices. This anomaly has to be rectified to ensure farmers fetch better prices for their produce, which will ensure sustainability of the venture since the youth are not attracted to farming.
Besides, some of the communities that have roads are mostly cut off during the raining season due to the absence of bridges. The inability of successive governments to speedily connect farming communities to marketing centres can be attributed to low commitment.
Years of underinvestment in rural roads and bridges have left behind a huge deficit for the rural economy, and it is high time we reversed the trend that only urban roads are considered for face-lifts. The Eastern corridor is a perfect example of neglecting farming communities and the labour they expend.
A lack of coordination among key agencies like the Department of Feeder Roads, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Ministry of Finance are partly accountable for the bad state of roads that lead to food producing enclaves, and this also has to be tackled.
The situation, if not addressed, will have consequences for the country’s commitment to meeting the sustainable development goals of eradicating poverty in rural areas. Our president is an eminent SDG advocate, and we hope his administration factors-in the importance of improving the country’s rural economy.
Fixing rural roads will go a long way to improve the lot of smallholder farmers as well as improve the entire Agriculture sector of the country.