In the coming days, it will be a criminal offense to plant crops using animal manure if a new bill proposed by the government is adopted into law.
The Crops Regulations, 2018, seeks to tighten the regulations governing food production, processing, marketing, imports and exports.
If the new bill is passed into law, it will be a criminal offense to obstruct appointed food-crops inspector from accessing farms or processing premises. The offense can attract a jail term of up to 10 years.
The bill, which is in its final drafting stage, has been proposed by the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and county governments.
After its final draft by the Attorney-General, the bill will be tabled in Parliament.
The strict measures brought forth in the new bill includes prohibiting farmers from growing crops next to sites whose land use could result in contamination of soil, water and air.
The areas highlighted include sites used for domestic animal production which many farmers rely on for cheaper animal manure. Others include sites used to dispose garbage, industrial waste, sanitary waste, roadsides and mining areas.
According to a source who intimated to the Daily Nation, the new measures are aimed at bringing order in the Agriculture sector.
For instance, Regulation 27 of the new bill affects farms next to the sites highlighted “where there is a likelihood of contamination through water drainage, run-off, wind erosion, animals, vehicles and equipment.”
Some of the crops the government seeks to regulate include cereals (including maize, barley, finger millet, pearl millet, wheat, wheat pasta, oats, rye, triticale) and legumes (soya beans, pigeon peas, cowpeas, chicken peas, broad beans, duster beans, dolichos beans ).
The crops will be regularly subjected to quality standards unlike in the past.
“Before you go into irrigation, let your water be analysed. This will protect you from losses when the produce is later condemned for having been grown in polluted or contaminated water,” said Ms Beatrice Nyamwamu, manager of regulations and compliance at AFA, told the local daily.
According to Ms Nyamwamu , the proposed will also oversee safety standards in the harvesting, grading, packaging, labelling, transportation and processing of crops.
The new bill also proposes that dealers, marketing agents, collection centres, warehouse operators, manufacturers and exporters to register their contracts with farmers at the AFA.
Ms Nyamwamu states that the new contracts will be witnessed by county governments.