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Bills propose merging of agriculture parastatals

BUSIA
By | December 19th 2011

By PATRICK BEJA and

WILLIS OKETCH

A Parliamentary team has announced plans to fast-track crucial reforms in the agriculture sector to end food insecurity.

At a retreat with agriculture sector stakeholders held at Leisure Lodge Resort in South Coast, the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Co-operatives said reforms would see agriculture parastatals cut down from 131 to only five.

The Bills, they said, would ensure there is harmony in the operations of the central and county governments and also jump-start the agricultural sector. They propose the establishment of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Authority as a regulator for the more than 100 parastatals under the agriculture sector.

"We are going to have an organised sector. The reforms aim at making agriculture more viable," said committee chairman and Naivasha MP John Mututho.

The proposed laws and policies are intended to improve focus on the sector and improve imports of agricultural commodities such as sugar to end shortages.

His statement was supported by Agriculture minister Sally Kosgei, Mohamed Kuti (Livestock), Amason Kingi (Fisheries Development) and Forestry Assistant minister Josphat Nanok.

Dr Kosgei and Mr Kuti were optimistic that the new laws could address illegal activities such as coffee theft, cattle rustling and illegal fishing.

The MPs said Kenyans would not enjoy the fruits of the new Constitution unless the agricultural sector builds capacity to ward off famine.

"The agricultural sector reforms are long overdue. They will make the sector more productive and responsive to the needs of Kenyans. At the moment there are no specific laws to address illegal activities like coffee theft," Kosgei said. Kuti said cattle rustling would be a thing of the past once the new laws are in place since there would be a consolidated approach to challenges.

Outdated

"Issues of food insecurity in this country will be a thing of the past," he said. Constitution Implementation Commission chairman Charles Nyachae and officials of the Kenya Law Reform Commission attended the retreat.

Participants at the forum discussed Agriculture Bill, Livestock Bill, National Agricultural Research Bill and Fisheries Bill and their respective policies intended to revolutionise agriculture. The Bills are expected to be enacted before the next General Election and are aimed at making Kenya food secure.

According to Mr Mututho, the country would no longer suffer sugar or fertiliser shortages and depend on relief food once the new pieces of legislation are operationalised.

He added that the current Acts on Agriculture were outdated and contradict each other.

"This is a retreat, which is conducted in a manner and procedure of a Parliamentary committee. The objective was to finalise one of the long outstanding issues in the agricultural sector," said Mututho.

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