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    Milking dairy cow

    By George Munene

    Amongst the key reforms contained in The Kenya Dairy Industry Regulations, 2021, was the setting of a minimum farm gate price of Sh 33 for a liter of milk. This has proven to be a key instigator for many to get into dairy farming and inspired a return for those who had abandoned the enterprise entirely owing to perennially poor prices.

    At its enacting into law in March of this year Agriculture CS Peter Munya stated that the dairy sector continues to be faced with a myriad of challenges. “Poor prices, seasonality of production, low productivity, poor quality, costly and inaccessible animal feeds, lack of an adequate regulatory framework among others have all contributed to making the dairy agricultural sub-sector unappealing for farmers, Munya pointed out.

    While many of the embarked-on reforms will require years to be realised, in the short term, the artificial price cupping of milk bought from farms by processors has breathed a new lease of life for farmers.

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    Having inherited her parent's dairy farm in Igoji, Meru County, in 2016, Agnes Kanini was winding down the business, making a pivot to horticultural farming. “Earning between Sh28 to 18 a liter for milk which on average cost Sh24 to produce made dairy keeping a high-wire act. A disease outbreak that depreciated the amount of milk we normally produced meant spending months trying to break even once again,” she explained. Having sold half her initial 22 milking herd, Kanini, like many others, was well on her way out of the sector. The new dairy industry reforms and the government’s February 2020 directive on the minimum farm gate price of Sh 33 per kilogram have reeled her back in.

    “For a year and a half now we have been supplying milk for Sh41-Sh30—that is a price run I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” she said.

    The regulations further strengthen the hand of Kenyan dairy farmers by safeguarding them against unfair trade practices, competition, and dumping. With stiff penalties that include the destruction of the illegally imported dairy produce material for those found to have contravened the dairy imports and exports clause of the law.

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    The new reforms also safeguard consumers by outlining a framework for the labeling, calibration, storage, and distribution of dairy products. This is to be adhered to by players across the milk production value chain.

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    Agriproduce transport

    By George Munene

    The national and county governments have agreed to eliminate double taxation—multiple levies and fees charged on goods transported across counties. This will prove a boon for farmers and fresh produce traders who can now more easily and cheaply move goods past county borders. 

    “We will be working on a framework that ensures goods are only taxed once at their county of origin. If you are a farmer or trader ferrying fresh food from Nyandarua you will no longer be taxed in Nairobi, Taita Taveta, etc, as you take your produce to markets in Mombasa,” said Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i at a presser held on the heels of the meeting on Wednesday. 

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    In the consultative forum between the Council of Governors (CoG) and the National Development, Implementation, and Communication Committee (NDICCC), it was determined that the ministry of Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise will now develop an agreement on the same for ratification by the country’s 47 counties. 

    This marks the first time since devolution started that counties have agreed to abolish double taxation even as traders have perennially complained that the duplication of levies has made private sector trading across county borders unnecessarily expensive.

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    Embu Governor Martin Wambora who also chairs the CoG pointed out that requiring a single permit will be ideal for commerce as businesses will more freely transport goods across counties.

    “The move will benefit our farmers who have had to endure double taxation. It will also spur private investments in the counties,” he said.

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    Tea

    By George Munene

    On Saturday, 26 June 2021, Bomet County shipped 84 tons of tea to Iran--commencing direct tea sales to the Middle Eastern country. This will mean increased incomes for the county's over 100,000 small-scale tea farmers.

    This follows talks between Bomet Governor Dr. Hillary Barchok and Iranian ambassador to Kenya H.E Jafar Barmaki have been ongoing for two years.

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    Demand for tea in Iran stands at 116 million kilos, with the country only producing 20 million kilos. This provides a potential market for Kenyan tea that is highly prized internationally. “Very few Iranians can afford Keyan tea because of its taste and quality. If I need Kenyan tea I have to order from Europe and that makes it unaffordable to many Iranians,” said Barmaki

    As of 2019, Kenya exported 532,715 kilograms to Iran--these numbers are however highly curtailed by US sanctions on the Islamic republic.

    Barchok insisted that direct markets offer farmers better prices and an alternative to the Kenya Tea Development Agency and the Mombasa Auction--bodies bedeviled by mismanagement and accusations of corruption. Prior to their amendment, Kenya’s tea exporting rules mandated that exported tea passes through the Mombasa tea auction house.

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    According to data from the Kenya Tea Directorate, Kenya exported 153.2 million kilograms of tea in the first three months of 2021, an 18.9 per cent jump in the first quarter of the year compared to 2020. Pakistan accounted for 40 per cent of the total shipments with other key destinations being Egypt, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Russia, Sudan, Yemen, and Kazakhstan.

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