NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – Senior lawyer Paul Muite wants Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Attorney General Paul Kihara compelled to explain the new regulations that could spell doom for small scale agricultural and dairy farmers.
Through his Twitter handle, the former Kabete MP has challenged the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture to summon the duo to explain how they arrived at what he terms ‘incomprehensible rationale for the Regulations’.
Muite was making reference to the proposed draft Crops (Food Crops) Regulations in which the government has criminalized use of water from the well, river or any other natural source to irrigate crops.
The proposal yet to be tabled in Parliament as it is still undergoing perusal by the Attorney-General.
The tough rules drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and county governments seek to control the value chain of the farming business.
If passed, an AFA crop inspector will have powers to enter a farm and randomly sample and test food crops in stores, warehouses, depots or processors. It can also destroy food products that do not conform to safety standards.
Any farmer who stops the inspector from assessing his or her land will be jailed for three years or be made to pay a Sh3 million fine if proposed regulations are approved.
The regulations require farmers to maintain records of their activities to be produced on demand.
A farmer found guilty of buying or selling to unregistered dealers, will be liable to pay Sh5 million fine or three years’ in prison or both.
Among the crops to be regulated are maize, barley, millet, wheat, oat, rye, triticale, grain amaranth, soya bean, pea, bean, sweet potato and cassava. The rules also affect tea and coffee.
This comes only days after the House Committee directed the CS and Kenya Diary Board to withdraw controversial milk regulations that sparked a public outcry.
The Committee Vice-Chairman Emmanuel Wangwe said must be scrutinized by all milk stakeholders both at production and consumption level to protect the investment of dairy farmers in the country.
“At this rate, we see our dairy industry in limbo. We want to demand that the Government stops this trend immediately and seek ways to improve milk production in the country,” said Wangwe.