The Problems with Regulation of Agriculture and Agribusiness in Kenya, evaluation of the extent to which the new legislative framework is likely to offer redress and invigorate the sector.

Published: 2021-07-06 06:25:56
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IntroductionFrom the early 1960s to 1980, the government was so much involved in all aspects of agricultural production and marketing hence all agricultural institutions were under government control, (Republic of Kenya, 2006). From 1981 0nwards, there was a paradigm shift to a liberalized market system and the government dominance and control reduced. This created an enabling environment and facilitated private sector participation. Later in 2004-2010, The Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA) was established with a vision of a commercially viable agricultural sector that would challenge food insecurity, unemployment, and poverty.A new phase was marked in 2010 when Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) was developed with a vision of a food secure and prosperous nation. This was the overall national policy document for the agriculture sector ministries and stakeholders in Kenya. This sectorial policy was developed to in the full knowledge of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and an attempt to identify agriculture as a key factor that delivers approximately 10% annual economic growth, by addressing challenges of;Poor land use, poor market access, and marketing inefficiencies.Low productivity and lack of value addition.As a result, there has been a distribution of key agricultural functions both at the national and devolved county level. To begin with the national level, functions related to agricultural policy, Veterinary Policy; including regulation of the profession, protection of natural resources and environment including fishing, protection of animals and wildlife, hunting and gathering, water protection and protection of catchment areas. However, county level has been mandated with the functions related to crop and animal husbandry, plant and animal disease control, veterinary services, animal control and welfare, trade control and regulation and water services. However, there are some functions which were not assigned and therefore not clear who will implement them. They include plant and animal research, livestock extension programs, development of Northern, Arid and Semi-Arid lands, and Regional Development.Since then, there has been an establishment of regulatory institutions that are mandated with the task of ensuring that whatever is offered to the consumers are of the right quality & quantity and of a good standard and all operations are executed in a healthy environment. They include Plant Protection Services (PPS), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), Department of Veterinary services etc. To achieve this, various legislative policies have been developed to control and monitor the agricultural activities in Kenya. These policies have been developed based on the prevailing agriculture conditions and they never existed before. Key Policy IssuesAgricultural policies in Kenya rotates around the core goals of raising productivity and growth of income basically to smallholders and improved food security and equity, (Alila & Atieno, 2006). It also stresses on irrigation issues to present stability in agricultural output, commercialization and intensification of production particularly among small-scale farmers; proper and participatory policy formulation and environmental sustainability. Key areas include:Irrigation to lower reliability on rain-fed agriculture in some highly potential arable lands.Improving productivity and income to farmers, particularly for small-scale farmers.Boosting food security and reducing the number of hunger-stricken individuals thus achievement of Kenya’s Vision 2030.Promoting value addition activities and diversification to non-traditional agricultural activities.Improving governance of agricultural institutions.Encouraging private sector development.Ensuring environmental sustainability, (Museng’ya, Caleb & Calestus, 2011).Policy concern or problems to be addressed by the policiesInadequate diversification of Agricultural production. Farmer is narrowly grounded in agricultural products particularly exports which results in the vulnerability of income to the global market tendencies.Limited high potential agricultural land and over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture. A significant part of country’s land Arid and Semi-Arid land that does not favor agricultural activities. This implies that for increased agricultural production to take place, there must be an intensification of the high and medium potential lands. Despite poor rain patterns experienced currently. There is still low utilization of irrigation potential lands.Declining agricultural performance. Policy makers have been experiencing difficulties of declining performance and growth of the agricultural sector and having a few stakeholders having interest in the sector.Lack of a comprehensive land use policy. There has been no clearly articulated land policy on land use and access to lands in the country. The problems with pastoral land tenure have implications for agricultural development specifically food security and sustainability.Scarce and diminishing research in agriculture. There was an insufficient appreciation of the economic aspects of small-scale farming, leading to research being based on input levels that were uneconomical to the small farmers.Poor and insufficient rural infrastructure. Poor infrastructure such as inaccessible roads, transport system, and markets resulted in high transaction costs and difficulty in transportation of inputs and outputs to the market.Financing of the agricultural sector and related activities. Finance inadequacy limits investment in value addition activities in agriculture. There has been low credit availability and even the number of financial institutions were very low. This interfered with the normal functioning of agricultural activities.Agricultural and Livestock Research Act 2013.This Act was brought due to the reduced research activities that were being conducted in the agricultural sector. Its main emphasis is on the hybrid cash crops as well food crops and hybrid livestock species that can take a shorter time to maturity thence helping in food security. Through this, it has resulted in capacity development among farmers who had little or no knowledge about these kinds of crops and livestock.There has been an introduction of new technological innovations in the agriculture sector. This is a result of farmers adopting faster the new methods introduced by the expertise.Analysis of the value chain has enabled farmers to produce a certain quality and standards thus enabling them to compete in the international markets.Input research has resulted to crop varieties and livestock species with shorter maturity periods that help in food security hence poverty eradication.The Act has also spelled out clearly the marketing channels and marketing strategies that help farmers to know in prior whom they are producing for and in what quantities.The Crop Act 2013The main objective of this Act was to improve investment in climate and efficiency in agribusiness and develop agricultural crops as export crops, (Porter, 1999). This could be achieved through processing, promotion of production, marketing, and proper distribution countrywide.It was also to accelerate the growth and development of agriculture while enhancing productivity and income to farmers. These are to be achieved by ensuring;All unnecessary regulatory bureaucracy in crop subsector is removed.Unnecessary levies, barriers to free movement of crop products and taxes are removed and rationalized taxation system is provided.Promote competition in the crop subsector by developing diverse market outlets and crop products.Attract and invite private sector investors in agriculture.Remove overlap functions in agricultural institutions which are involved in the crop regulation.There has been a market creation for agricultural crops and agro-based industries that buy and process local produce from farmers. The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) also buy from farmers to help them reduce post-harvest losses due to lack of market.The crop subsector now has introduced the Genetically Modified Organisms that have shorter maturity periods hence help to boost food security. This has been achieved with the support of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) which dispatches information to farmers on new agriculture technologies.There is improved seed quality due to increased research in crop subsector. This has led to high quality and quantity production.Availability of credit institutions that is basically for supporting farmers and easy procedures for getting the loans and repayments.Interest capping and removal of unnecessary taxes has facilitated marketing of agriculture produce and farmers are able to get profits from their farms.Cotton Policy and Repeal of Cotton Industry Act CAP 335Cotton Industry Act cap 335 was repealed to help invigorate the dying cotton industry in Kenya, (CoK, 2010). This was after the proposed policy to do away with cotton industry in the country due to market liberalization.Another key contributor to the dying cotton industry was poor prices in the international markets. This was due to the restriction of importation of high-quality seeds which could produce quality cotton for global markets and compete effectively.Setting up of textile industries will ensure demand for cotton hence the availability of the market for the product.Advisory committees have been formed to come up with strategies for re-establishing the subsector. They develop pest and disease control strategies which are the major point of weakness in the subsector and to farmers by deploying extension officers who would implement these policies.There have been regional negotiations that have seen the importation of certified seeds being allowed from countries such as Israel. This has motivated small-scale farmers to practice cotton farming once again.Policies on price regulation encourage farmers to produce more cotton and grow the subsector.Livestock and Agricultural Policy.This policy is so key to the subsector experience a lot of challenges. Lack of sufficient funding of the subsector from the government, poor infrastructure that hinder transportation of livestock and agricultural products, inadequate knowledge and skills on current production technologies, unavailability of credit to farmers are some of the key challenges affecting the subsector. Liberalization of markets has also affected the subsector as well as the adoption of new technology.Intensive agricultural training and extension services have been developed to ensure adequate and appropriate information reaches the farmers. The youths and women are highly encouraged to take part in the production.There is need to increase food sufficiency by encouraging farmers to produce what is adequate for consumption and sell the surplus for income generation. This can be achieved by offering credit to farmers and subsidies on the prices of input.The problems of livestock health have been put into consideration by establishing bodies such as Kenya Meat Commission and Veterinary Board of Kenya to ensure health and safety standards and to ensure that livestock products consumed are not harmful to consumers.With the introduction of policies on protection of producers and consumers, many stakeholders have shown interest in participating in the subsector. This will result in increased production in both the livestock and agriculture sectors.National Potato Industry PolicyPotato industry has never been addressed before by the national government. This has led to a continued increase and piling up of problems and challenges in the subsector. Farmers incur high costs in the production of potatoes but end up selling at low prices after being exploited by the brokers. Policy on standardized packaging and weight per sack has helped in reducing this problem. Pests and diseases lower the quality of potatoes produced locally thus limiting the participation in the international markets. High prices of inputs were also a major problem in the sector as well as transportation to market.Policies restricting importation of potato tubers were revised in 2013 to allow into the country high-quality planting materials. This has led to high-quality produce in a shorter time period.New policies on adoption of new technologies have also been developed to promote quality production. The Seed and Plant Varieties Act has been revised to allow private seed inspection under the KEPHIS license.There has been an improvement in the post-harvest handling of potatoes and initiation of value addition practices and marketing through training in agribusiness seminars and workshops. Private sectors have also developed an interest in the subsector forcing the both the national and county governments to invest more in the subsector.Potato production is now being commercialized as compared to earlier on when it was done for family consumption. Farmers now practice contract farming with potato processor which ensure regular supply of potato while avoiding post-harvest losses due to lack of market.Research on potato pests and diseases has facilitated control and management of the existing and emerging pests and diseases. It has also come up with appropriate fertilizers and appropriate seed rates that promise maximum yields.There has been an improvement of potato shelf life compared to earlier before due to the introduction of modern storage facilities for the product to the farmers before marketing and by the processors after marketing.Fisheries Act, 2013Initially, fishing was mainly done in lakes, seas, and oceans. The sector was also not regulated and there were low investments in the subsector. Fish processing industries were few which is still a challenge up to moment and the consumption rate was low since there was poor handling of the product.Policies have now been developed to ensure the establishment of fish processing industries which has seen exportation of fish products (filets).The government has introduced storage facilities that facilitate the transportation of fish from lake regions to Kenyan urban centers for consumption. These storage facilities have also improved fish handling thus attracting more consumers to the product.Project on the establishment of fish ponds helps in increasing fish production whose demand is now higher than supply.Policies on the sizes of fish allowed in the market have also ensured only marketable fish are caught. There are regulatory bodies put in place to control and ensure the sizes of nets used for fishing are appropriate as required by the Act.National Seed PolicyThe policy was established to enhance transformation in the seed sector and to ensure the sector provide a high quality and improved seeds to farmers.Seed sector experienced several challenges that led to the revision of the Seed and Plant Varieties Act to enable it to incorporate plant variety protection, that is, plant variety rights.There has been a dual participation of both public and private sectors to harmonize regional policies to ease the cross-border trade of seeds to enable international confirmation.Improved technology has resulted in the introduction of new seed varieties that take shorter periods to mature. Modern infrastructure also stimulates proper exploitation of new varieties hence increased productivity.Private seed inspectors have been registered and authorized to supplement KEHIS services in seed testing.Implementation of phytosanitary measures provide rules that are essential for prevention of introduction of materials that are infested by pests and diseases. This is covered under Noxious Weed Act Cap 325 that provides for suppression of noxious weeds and Plant Protection Act.There is an establishment of genetic resource centers that deal with valuation of varieties and has ensured maintenance and certification of high-value crops.Livestock ActLivestock sector experiences several challenges that were never addressed by the government before. Diseases form the major base of livestock farming problems. It was not intensively covered by the government and this led to a high mortality rate of livestock hence great losses to farmersMost farmers engaged in keeping indigenous livestock species which had low quality and quantity products. The genetic composition was very poor since there were no programs for genetic composition improvement.Insurance schemes have been established on livestock to encourage participation in livestock sector and creation of disease-free zones by veterinary policies to reduce the mortality rate of livestock.Establishment of institutions that offer training and research activities as well as extension services and marketing of livestock and their products.Improvement of breeds and genetic programs through cross-breeding and substitution of indigenous breeds with exotic breeds which have high output.Policies on on-farm interventions have increased the availability of local feeds and modification of agro-ecological zones that suits the keeping of the improved breeds.Development of Sugar Policy and Amendment of Sugar Act No. 10 of 2001This is one of the sectors that has experienced a lot of challenges since establishment. There has been no proper regulation and policies put in place to operationalize the subsector.Importation of sugar has ever remained to be a key problem. Despite the attempts to revitalize the sector, there are still weak policies on the importation of sugar.Stiff competition from cheap selling sugar which is imported locally and competition in Regional markets and poor prices has contributed to the failure and collapse of the sugar sector, (Nezerwe,2011).Liberalization of markets by the government has led to the removal of price control which has demoralized sugarcane farmers.New policies have been introduced to reduce taxes and levies on sugar production. This has reduced tax burden on the farmers and sugar industries.Institutions such as Kenya Sugar Research Foundation(KSRF) are now encouraged to conduct research activities on early maturing varieties and disease resistant varieties to facilitate faster growth and quality production.There is a preservation of local and export preferential markets by using anti-dumping system and safeguards.The government has come up with Sugar Development Fund that writes off some debts for farmers hence debt relief.However, there are some policy issues or gaps that need to be addressed. These include;Collaboration between counties on areas of comparative advantages.ASDS- evaluating the gaps particularly on issues related to resource allocation and transition while putting into consideration the role of devolved governments.Establishment of County Agricultural Boards is not featured in the Crop Act, thence it’s likely to be run from a general office.RecommendationsPrioritization & growth of modern infrastructure, for example, roads, electricity, water, financial services need to be addressed.Support bringing together, and harmonization in terms of operation of Sectoral policies and legislation.Establishment of monitoring mechanisms which could help in addressing the implementation of policies.Expand both public and private sector partnership. According to the Constitution of Kenya, emphasis is on participation of people and must be considered first in any decision made, (CoK, 2010).Come up with risks mitigation methods through insurance, provision of subsidies and conditional grants.Execution of policies & legislation in line with the Constitution to defend theinterests of the vulnerable & marginalized groups such as women, minorities and youths who are likely to be victims of intrinsic discriminations in the value chain.In conclusion, the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been working tirelessly to improve food security in the country through implementation and enactment of Acts that favor farmers. It has also been working on easement of regional trade with the bordering countries in terms of removing unnecessary trade barriers, export and import duties and taxation among other things. The Acts have provided comprehensive cover of every aspect in agriculture sector and all subsectors and have been delegated to various institutions which ensure the implementation. It is through the execution and implementation that agriculture sector can improve and we become a food secure country and achieve our Vision 2030.

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