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Economy

Munya signals agriculture regulator break-up with sugar board revival push

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya at
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya at Kilimo House during the announcement of sugar reforms on July 2, 2020. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

The Ministry of Agriculture seeks to revive defunct Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) to address challenges facing the sector, in yet another clear indication that the government plans to break up the agriculture regulator.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said they are pushing for the creation of the sugar board through amendments to be introduced in the Sugar Bill that is currently in Parliament.

Mr Munya said the sector is vast and requires a body that will purely be dedicated to the industry matters.

“We want to bring back the Kenya Sugar Board to deal with various issues that affects the sugar sector in the country,” said Mr Munya.

Last month, Mr Munya said they were looking at a possibility of breaking up the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), which brought together all the former agricultural parastatals that were previously independent.

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The CS said the taskforce will be formed to examine the performance of AFA since its inception in 2014 following the collapse of 13 agricultural parastatals into one.

Mr Munya said Parliament had already shown its inclination by questioning the effectiveness of AFA as one huge body with different mandates.

KSB, said Mr Munya, will be charged with the responsibility of setting the cane prices, which has been an issue of concern to farmers as millers have been at liberty to set the cost of raw material at which they buy the sugarcane from growers.

KSB will use the sucrose content as a measure to determine the amount of money that a farmer will earn from his crop as the government moves to award farmers based on the quality of cane, a departure from the current weight based method where growers are paid in tonnes.

AFA had introduced sugar cane pricing committee that would set price every month basing on the cost of sugar in the market.

However, this mechanism did not achieve its purpose. The new KSB will also be charged with the responsibility of collecting the sugar levy, which is being reintroduced after being scrapped off a number of years back.

The ministry has established a raft of reforms aimed at changing the sugar sector, which has been performing dismally in recent years.

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