The Agriculture ministry has signalled plans to start controlling prices of food produce such as maize, beans and rice to curb exploitation of consumers in what will increase the number of products whose costs are fixed.
Draft regulations prepared by the ministry, together with sector regulator Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and the 47 county authorities, list the three among 23 commonly consumed food items whose prices will be State-controlled.
Sorghum, wheat, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet and pea are also in the list of food produce targeted for control, harking back to the law passed in 2011 under the Kibaki administration allowing control of essential good prices.
The draft regulations are also aimed at tightening rules governing production, processing, marketing, imports and exports of food. An 11-member Food Crops Pricing Committee will be responsible for reviewing food produce prices and advising the Agriculture secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri on the policy.
The proposed committee will draw its membership from AFA, the Council of Governors, and farmers' and buyers’ bodies (which will provide two members each). The Agriculture ministry and the Treasury will each have a representative on the committee.
The document, presently at Attorney-General’s office, is expected to be brought to Parliament for approval as provided for under the Statutory Instruments Act, 2013, before being enforced.
If approved, food produce will join fuel and bank loans among products whose pricing are controlled by the State. Kenya has been controlling fuel prices since 2010 and bank charges from August 2016.
“The food crops produce pricing formula shall take into consideration the cost of production, input-output price parity, trends in the market prices, demand and supply, inter-crop price parity, effect on industrial cost structure among other factors,” the draft rules say.