New agriculture law can transform sector
| October 9th 2013
On the face of it, it is hard to see what the fuss about the new Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority Act, 2013 is all about. On the one hand, President Kenyatta says the immediate enforcement of the new law is sound policy and will accelerate industrialisation.
On the other hand, opponents of the new law, including some farmers’ organisations under the umbrella of the Agriculture Industry Network, claim the local economy is likely to be hurt as exports, mostly tea, coffee and horticulture produce, are slapped with precautionary bans by importers.
The crux of the opposing arguments appear centred on the fact that the all-inclusive authority will bring all the regulatory bodies in the sector under a director-general appointed by the Agriculture Secretary.
The authority is set to inherit the functions of the institutions and state corporations currently charged with the regulation, production, and processing and marketing functions for various agricultural commodities.
Although former President Kibaki signed the law in January 2013, just two months before the end of his term, and it was to have been effective from July, Parliament deferred its enactment for six months to allow time for consultations and possible amendments.
The hope, therefore, is that all sides will talk to each other and ultimately open the way for enactment of the law.
Obviously, these consultations will not succeed unless all the parties come to the table with clean hands.
Accusations that the government is setting up an institution to make bribery easier, or that those opposed to the new dispensation are fighting to remain relevant in the new regulatory regime are counter-productive.
They do not serve anyone’s interests and have no place in the on-going debate.
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