There’s need for better use of laws to boost food production
Kenya’s agriculture sector was initially managed by a myriad of laws and legislations, but this was repealed by the current constitution.
Up to 131 pieces of legislations that were causing contradictions or were obsolete were done away with as they were consolidated into three broad legislations namely Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) Act, the Crops Act and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Act.
Some of the laws that regulate the sector include Public Health Act Cap.2421 implemented by Department of Public Health (DPH) at the ports of entry and has great impacts on exports and imports.
Then there is Radiation Protection Act Cap.243 (In the case of irradiated foods) implemented by Kenya Plant Health Inspection Service (Kephis) at the ports entry and Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act Cap. 2541 3 Implemented by the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) at the ports of entry for export and imports of dairy product.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority Act (No. 13 of 2013) 2 - Repealed Agriculture Act – Cap. 318 implemented by Director of Veterinary Services (DVS) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) regulates grain imports and fish among other products.
The Crops Act (No. 16 of 2013)2 - Repealed Agriculture (Export) Act – Cap. 319 implemented by DVS and DPH at the ports of entry; the Plant Protection Act Cap.324 (In case of fruits and vegetables) and The Seed and Plant Variety (NPT) Regulations, 20092 and the Seeds and Plant Varieties (Amendment) Act, No. 53 of 2012 which regulates imported seeds or seed crops with potential to grow when planted implemented by Kephis and finally Biosafety Act 200911 implemented by National Biosafety Authority (NBA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards at the ports of entry, which regulate GMOs production and imports.
Currently the law maintains an import ban on genetically modified food products into the country.
DECLINE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY
As compared to the previous laws and regulations, the new Acts have improved overall legal and policy framework for agriculture and currently there is greater impact through increasing agricultural productivity and production.
Through the laws, there is also improved governance of agricultural institutions, promotion of sustainable land and natural resource management, increased market access and trade.
With the new laws, the national government has authority over policy issues, training, finance and technical assistance while county governments have the responsibility of priority setting, financial management, agricultural production and related extension services.
Tegemeo Institute reports for different counties indicate that investment in the sector increased by 20-40 per cent but there is no significant rise in productivity.
Reports show decline in agricultural productivity (10-25 per cent) in many counties due to among other things, fewer extension staff to farmers (1:1000 farmers), poorly supported and unclear guidelines on promotion and transfer of county staff, corruption, political interference by MCAs on budgets, inadequate consultations, long and tedious bureaucratic communication channels between the national and county governments, conversion of agricultural training centres into universities and colleges, and use of farm machinery in road construction.
To achieve better productivity, growth and food security, there is need for better utilisation of new rules and regulations, proper coordination across both national and county governments to exploit synergies and existing infrastructure for mutual growth.
Better coordination and pulling of resources together among the two levels of government will enhance agricultural price policies in favour of the producers.