Ignore flawed agricultural Bills, MPs told

By James Anyanzwa

Agricultural professionals have faulted various Bills formulated by the ministry of Agriculture terming them ‘unconstitutional’. They now want parliament to suspend debate on Bills.

The Government through the ministry of Agriculture has prepared five (5) Bills with a view of regulating various agricultural sub-sectors.

The Bills, which are at various stages of publication and being debated in parliament, include the Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Authority , the Crops Bill 2012, the Kenya Agricultural Research Bill 2012, Livestock Bill 2012 and the Fisheries bill 2012. However, agricultural professionals through the Kenya Society for Agricultural Professionals (Kesap) are unhappy with the Bills.

They say the proposed laws negate the spirit of the new constitution and lack legal clarity.

They also claim not to have been consulted. According to Kesap, the Bills have been drafted without due regard to the correct procedures of developing legislation and without consideration of its negative impact.

“These Bills propose to regulate, develop and promote matters concerning our members and stakeholders, while they have not been consulted,” says Paul Mbuni, Kesap National Chairman.

“Indeed, it is not clear from the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons accompanying the Bills whether the necessary regulatory impact assessment was done before deciding on the Bills. The bills lack legal clarity.”

For instance Kesap argues that although the Bills propose new directorates, the roles and functions of these officers are not clearly spelt out.

 “The Bills carry with them enormous risks that have not been quantified to our knowledge and the risks are likely to create harm to the productive sector,” Mbuni told The Standard in an e-mailed statement.

Consequently, Kesap wants the MPs to suspend debate on the Bills pending the development and enactment of an enabling agriculture policy, veterinary policy, health policy and other policies impacting on the agricultural sector that are specified in the Constitution, including the required exhaustive public participation, which would inform the subsequent legislative reforms.

According to Kesap, the approved policies will inform creation and re-organisation of institutions.

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