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Farmers face 2-year jail term, Sh1m fine for poor produce

BUSINESS
By Macharia Kamau | March 6th 2020
A trader displays fresh farm produce at his grocery at Kisii Municipal market. [Sammy Omingo/Standard]

The Ministry of Agriculture will start deploying food crop inspectors with unfettered powers to seize any produce that fails to meet the set threshold.

This as government implements new regulations that will enhance oversight in the production and sale of food produce in the country.

Refusal to allow crops inspectors into the farms, fields or the premises of other players in the agriculture chain could lead to a jail term of up to two years or a Sh1 million fine.

“A crops inspector may enter any land or premises, or board any vehicle that is used for storing or transporting food crops or food produce to conduct an inspection,” read the regulations.

“A crops inspector shall seize and detain any food crops or food produce that is packaged in a manner that does not conform to the requirement of these regulations,” it noted.

“A person who obstructs a crops inspector from carrying out the required inspection commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine of Sh1 million, or imprisonment for two years, or both,” the regulations state.

While the new regulations are aimed at improving food safety and enhancing earnings for farmers, they might hurt small-holder farmers. Stringent requirements could also drive up the cost of food production.

Other than the deployment of inspectors, the Crops (Food Crops) Regulation of 2020 will require dealers in food produce to implement systems that enable them to trace the origin of the commodities.

Pay levies

It will also require exporters and importers of food produce to pay levies to the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA). This is in addition to the introduction of fees for the various players along the agriculture chain that may increase the cost of food in the country.

The regulations will oversee the production of food produce, save for food grown and used at the household level.

In the subsidiary law that was gazetted as Legal Notice 217 of 2019, crops inspectors will be appointed by AFA in consultation with county governments.

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