Fresh days ahead for dairy sector

February 10, 2012
Cows grazing in a Kenyan field/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – Kenya could soon be on its way to closing the policy gap that exists in the dairy sector with the passage of legislation that could stimulate the industry’s growth.

Livestock Minister Mohammed Kuti disclosed that the proposed Dairy Bill and Dairy Development Policy are currently pending at the Attorney General’s office awaiting debate by Parliament.

‘The Bill has been pushed through the Cabinet and unfortunately it is one of those from this ministry that have been in the AG’s office for quite some time now because of the pressure of the Bills emanating from the new Constitution,” he said.

Drafted in 2000, the Dairy Bill has suffered lengthy delays and subsequently prolonged the industry’s quest to have an enabling environment in which to operate as it seeks to become both competitive and self-sustaining.

If enacted, the Bill will replace the outdated Dairy Industry Act that was enacted in 1958 mainly to protect market interests of the then expanding large scale commercial dairy enterprises.

While there are nearly a dozen pieces of legislation regulating the dairy sector, there has been a huge disconnect in how these laws have been interpreted and enforced.

This has in effect meant that the industry’s potential has not been fully realised.

Although the sector has recorded tremendous growth since 1992 when it was liberalised, the success has been attained with little support and incentives from the government.

According to statistics from the Kenya Dairy Board, the industry is a major source of income and employment to approximately three million Kenyans and contributes about six percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

As at December 2011, milk production stood at 5.1 billion litres with about 555 million litres processed both for local use and export. This potential continues to attract private sector investments with the Board recently announcing that four processors have been awarded the license to start operations in the country soon.

With the proper legislative framework, industry players are convinced that their contribution to the general economic development and poverty reduction would even be greater.

Kuti said his ministry acknowledges the unrealised potential that the sector portends hence the decision to institute measures that ensure better management of the industry.

One of these mechanisms is the proposal for the agriculture line ministries to consolidate the over 131 laws that govern the agriculture sector.

By collapsing these laws, the minister and his counterparts believe they can achieve the synergy and expediency required to unlock this potential and support the development of the sector.

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