Thursday, September 26, 2019 Plans are underway to create an umbrella lobby group to address issues afflicting the agriculture sector in Kenya.
Agriculture Stakeholders held a conference organized by Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Elgon Kenya and the Kenya Camel Association in Nairobi to lay out plans for the formation of the Kenya Agriculture Federation (KAFE).
Arch. Lee Karuri Chair, KEPSA Foundation Trustee said the Agriculture sector was not fully organized and well-coordinated to articulate the challenges preventing the sector from realizing its full potential, leading to diminishing returns and loss of jobs. “There is need to get a big voice other than the Big 4 Agenda since the sector lacks advocacy.” Said Mr Karuri. KAFE would advocate and incorporate a strategic plan for the sector.
The chair proposed that the umbrella lobby group would bring aboard various associations, corporates and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Agri-sector. This would help champion for pro Agri policies that would spur productivity, performance and growth of the sector. They would also partner with the government in addressing all the concerns of the sector.
Bimal Kantaria the Managing Director Elgon Kenya,” we are forming an umbrella body to represent all private sector agriculture organisations including research institutions and education bodies.” Said Mr Kantaria.
The membership categories will spur across existing sub-sector association across all value chains, Individual corporates in the entire value chain of food and agriculture. Agricultural research institutions such as Strathmore university, the finance sector, cooperative societies together with the Non-Governmental Organizations and small holder farmers.
“Agriculture being devolved, there is need to find a way of engaging the counties by Integrated Development Plans also the need for a strategy for sustainable engagement, “said Mr Karuri.
Apollo Owour Chair Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya FPEAK , said that the voice of the horticulture sector is heard, although there are a lots of cross cutting issues on management and labour that are affecting the sector. “The gains for horticulture is through our contribution to the economy. Regulations coming in act as barriers, and we need to engage with the concerned departments in the Ministry of Agriculture to address these issues.” Said Mr Owour. Crop Protection Products regulations is one major issue. Robert Kiteme of the Council of Governors, said “Agriculture is not fully devolved but partially devolved, it is at an infant stage a motive approach affects us. The Council of Governors has to make change for the Agrochemicals. Agriculture is not a priority.” There has been confusion after devolution between the national government and the county government on agriculture and we hope the federation will help in clearing the confusion for proper coordination of the sector.
Strathmore University has been training farmers on Agribusiness and also on meeting the needs of the industry. Man power in the sector has to go hand in hand with the trends. Every player in the sector has to understand that they are in business this would help them in management of efficiency and productivity. Edward Mudibo of the East African Tea Trade Association, said that organized Agri players lead to good government interventions and the private sector has played its role. He called upon KAFE to be an interlink across the value chain