The Star (Nairobi)

19 November 2012

Kenya: Agriculture Players Reject Five Farm Bills

PLAYERS in the agriculture sector have called for the immediate withdrawal of five bills that seeks to merge the regulation of the sector under one state authority.

The players, through a group calling itself the Agricultural Industry Network, say the bills severely breaches the constitution partly because their development was shrouded in secrecy.

"Existing policy reform proposals will be made redundant, throwing out all consultations to date on sub-sector reforms," the group said in a statement. The contested bills are Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Food Authority Bill 2012, the Crops Bill 2012, Kenya Agricultural Research Bill 2012, Livestock Bill and the Fisheries Bill that is under development.

"What is proposed is an authority whose composition and sweeping powers will curtail efficiency and burden the sector with compliance requirements, thereby stunting its growth," the group said.

The group claims the bills are not based on any policies discussed, developed or agreed. Instead the perception or arrogance of the Ministry of Agriculture makes it not consult the 10 million Kenyans whose livelihoods depend on the agriculture sector, the said.

The group also claimed that the bills will jeopardise existing international trade agreements like the World Trade Organisation and the East African Community.

The network comprises more than 25 business member organisations that represent farmers, households and business in the agriculture sector.

"They do not conform to the 60-day notification of proposed changes in the regulatory framework to trading partners and WTO members," the statement added. "They will destroy Kenya's international credibility with its trading partners."

The group warned that proceeding with these bills, despite the process being illegal, will raise already existing anxiety. They said the bills ignore stated government policy and do not support the private sector.

They claims that the bills will compromise growth and incomes by not encouraging the private sector and will also compromise efficiency by putting resources back into the public sector.

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