|Kenya plans new state agricultural agency|
Author: KEN OPALA
Date: 15 May 12
Posted Tuesday, May 15 2012.Kenya’s Ksh100 billion ($1.2 billion) agricultural sector is to be placed in the hands of a powerful body, if parliament accepts a proposed set of laws already approved by the concerned parliamentary committee.Once created, the all-encompassing Agricultural Livestock and Food Authority will take over the functions of dozens of state corporations dealing in commodities as well as services. Thus, functions of established parastatals such as Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and National Cereals and Produce Board will now be under ALFA.ALFA will not only administer the agriculture sector, it will also help counties build capacity in managing the industry, according to John Mututho, the chairman of the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Co-operatives.ALFA is expected to handle a budget of not less than Ksh50 billion ($600 million), and will have a specialised wing to manage the sector. The establishment of ALFA is part of sweeping reforms proposed in the sector, in line with the provisions of the new Constitution.After nine years of consultation, 131 statutes that currently govern the sector have been consolidated into four Bills — Agriculture, Livestock and Food Authority Bill 2012; Fisheries and Livestock Bill 2012; Crops Bill 2012; and the Agricultural Research Bill 2012 — to be tabled in parliament this month.The ALFA Bill will repeal 20 statutes including the Agriculture Act, Grass Fires Act, Tea Act, Coffee Act, Sugar Act, Sisal Industry Act, Cotton Act, Coconut Act, and the Pyrethrum Act.Parastatals whose functions will be taken over by ALFA include the Coconut Development Authority, Kenya Sugar Board, Tea Board of Kenya, Coffee Board of Kenya, Horticultural Crops Development Authority, Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, Cotton Development Authority, Plant Health Inspectorate, Kenya Dairy Board, and Pests Control Products Board.These parastatals will be replaced by independent directorates.“The Authority may establish directorates for each crop or produce as may be necessary to enable the carrying out of any specialised activities with respect to the promotion or management of the crop or produce,” reads the Bill.Any profit-making corporation may carry on as a business registered under the Companies Act “so as to enable (it) to carry on the commercial activity,” reads the Bill.Thus, the assets of the corporations that cease to exist will be distributed among ALFA and the commercial companies.No jobs will be lost. “Any person who, at the commencement of this Act, is a member of staff of a former institution shall, on the appointed day, become a member of staff of [ALFA] on the same or improved terms and conditions of service as may be specified by the Cabinet Secretary,” the Bill states.ALFA will be led by a chairman appointed by the president, principal secretaries drawn from ministries of agriculture, finance, county governments, lands, co-operatives, a representative of the National Land Commission, and director general (who will be the chief executive of the authority). The director general will be appointed by the board “through competitive recruitment process.”“The Bill was born out of the need to consolidate the law relating to agriculture and agricultural land use in Kenya, in order to boost agricultural production and thereby ensure food security for the people of Kenya,” Minister of Agriculture Dr Sally Kosgey said.A meeting of Cabinet ministers, PSs and heads of departments allied to the agricultural sector was held in Mombasa recently to discuss the changes drafted by the Agricultural Sector Co-ordination Unit (ASCU). They met members of the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives. ASCU, which has been drafting the reforms, is to act as the “administrative secretariat” of ALFA for a year after the enactment of the laws.The Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation will take over the functions of all research institutions – KARI, KEFRI, KETRI, Coffee Research Foundation, Tea Research Foundation, Kenya Sugar Research Foundation. It will be headed by the director-general.The Crops Bill 2012 Draft provides that “within one year of the coming into force of this Act, the Cabinet Secretary shall commission a scientific study to identify agricultural land suitable for production of each of the scheduled crops (includes tea, coffee, sugar, cotton, maize, wheat, coconut, and pyrethrum). The findings of the study will be made public. It then shall be tabled in Parliament for debate and adoption.“What we want to do is of historic value. We are trying to make laws that bring harmony in the industry; laws that will end up streamlining agriculture and making it a profitable business,” Mr Mututho said.“Each county government shall within its area of jurisdiction be responsible for agricultural matters,” reads the Bill.The national government “shall … be responsible for agricultural policy and for assisting the county governments on agricultural matters.”The county governments may impose fees for the development of crops within their regions, the draft states.
Source: The East African.