The stakeholders supported the rationale of consolidation of the multiple laws and institutions (state corporations) that regulate the many crops cultivated in Kenya reducing costs to the tax payer. However, the forum took issue with lack of consultative process with key stakeholders in development of the bills, prior to their tabling in parliament.
As general observations on the two bills, the forum recommended the need for the bill to promote value addition before crops are exported so that farmers get higher returns and are cushioned from exploitation by key players in the value chain through inclusion of a formula that provides for a minimum price for all scheduled crops.
Specific Observations, concerns and recommendations:
The stakeholders have raised the following specific observations and recommendations on the ALFFA Bill, 2012 and Crops Bill, 2012:
ALFFA Bill, 2012:
- That the functions of the Authority be expanded to include promotion of best practices in and regulation in matters of financing farm inputs and harvesting. Specifically, on the functions of the Authority, it was recommended that the Cabinet Secretary in consultation with the relevant stakeholders should scientifically determine and set a crop pricing formula for every scheduled crop. This is critical in ensuring farmers get a fair return, as currently benefits and risk sharing across the value chain is not equitable, with farmers being the main losers.
- On the board of the authority(ALFFA), the forum raised concerns that whereas the statutes to be repealed provided for a higher growers’ representation through elected directors, this seems to have fallen through the cracks in the proposed bills. The forum hence recommended that: chairperson appointed by the President be approved by National Assembly; that in place of the 4 appointees of the cabinet secretary, there be eight persons, being farmers representatives, elected by the farmers to represent such major crop subsectors in Kenya. Specifically, there is need for provision that the Cabinet Secretary shall develop rules/regulations for the election of the members of the board and provide for a mechanism to ensure that not more than two thirds of the members so elected are of the same gender.
- That the bills need to appreciate the participation of farmers through farmer’s organizations in development of policies or regulations or in the making of any major decisions that has effect on the agricultural sector, currently not factored in. This is for the sole purpose of ensuring effective participation of farmers in the governance of the agricultural sector in Kenya.
- On the finances of the authority the forum recommended the need for a ceiling on the funds to be spent on administrative expenses of the Authority;
- That in dealing with Noxious and invasive weeds (Part IV), the county government should provide the technical support to the eradication of noxious and invasive weeds, as the county government has a constitutional responsibility for plant disease control as provided for in Fourth schedule of the COK, 2010. This is as opposed to having the farmer to bear the sole responsibility and or shouldering the financial costs that arise from such clearance by the county government as currently provided in the bill.
between the players will be dealt with. For instance, the Sugar Act 2001
- That compared with the current statutes set for repeal with the adoption of the Crops Bill and ALFFA Bill, there is an apparent gap in how arising disputes established the Sugar Arbitration Tribunal. The forum recommended that an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for conflicts arising between different players in the sector be developed at the county level.
vii. The forum also recommended that the Authority in consultation with the relevant Ministry should develop regulations setting the decent working conditions and minimum wages applicable to workers in the agricultural sector.
THE CROPS BILL, 2012
- That there is need to expand interpretation section to include more terms for enhanced clarity including “Breeding Programmes “, ”Compulsory certification”, “Voluntary certification”, “outgrower institution”, “co-operative societies”, “dealing in crops” specify who the “dealers” are;
- That additional provision on the promotion of scheduled crops be factored in to cater for promotion of value addition as a condition for export crops, and crops exported without value addition should attract higher taxes. And that specifically, there is need for formulation of general and specific policies and industry agreements to regulate the minimum period within which farmers should be paid for their crops and financial penalties for delayed payments. Currently some farmers are not paid promptly.
- That farmer’s organizations should be recognized as representatives of growers, and this should be reflected throughout the Bill. The Bill should also specify that whenever farmers have agreed to allow deductions of their earnings to farmers’ institutions, the party responsible for effecting such deductions should comply e.g. the millers. This will allow for the growers to support the farmer organizations of which they are members.
- The forum took note of possible overlap of functions of the subsidiary bodies (section 33 of the Crops Bill) with the directorates established in section 11 of the ALFFA Bill. The forum recommended that instead of establishment of subsidiary bodies, the Directorates established in ALFFA should carry out these functions. In addition, the establishment of multiple subsidiary bodies will result in a large work force and high wage bill. We support lean effective Directorates.
- The forum noted with concern that as opposed to current Acts on sugar, coffee; the proposed bill has no provisions on regulating the relationships between different players in the sector, on crop pricing and on industry wide agreements. The stakeholders proposed the need for the cabinet secretary in consultation with the stakeholders to come up with regulations on these aspects.
- The stakeholders also noted with concern that whereas rice, which is a major food crop is a scheduled crop in the First Schedule, over-regulation of this crop should be avoided. The forum proposed that the Irrigation Act, Cap 347 which currently regulates its production in the irrigation schemes, should be repealed. Similarly, the National Irrigation Board should be dissolved as the rice sub sector should be regulated under one law. In itself, Cap 347 defeats the spirit of Crops and ALFA bills, and has provisions that are unconstitutional, retrogressive and if not repealed the sector will still over-regulated.