KEPSA in partnership with the Business Advocacy Fund convened a breakfast meeting with BMOs in the Agriculture Sector to brainstorm on how to advance the ‘Big 4 Agenda’ Pillar on Food Security. The meeting took place at Serena Hotel on 8th May 2019.
The objective of the meeting was to outline the high-impact measures and opportunities for private sector and opportunities for private sector participation in agricultural transformation and food security.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Carole Kariuki CEO, KEPSA noted that as the umbrella body for the private sector, KEPSA has been working with stakeholders in respective sectors towards contributing to the success of the 4 pillars. She observed that the agriculture sector was wide with divergent players and that better coordination was required policy advocacy in order to achieve Food Security.
In his remarks, Mr. Bill Lay, Chair of Business Advocacy Fund (BAF) highlighted the role of BAF towards supporting private sector capacity for policy advocacy in agriculture. The observed that the yet to be launched Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) was a well thought out plan that BAF would be willing to support its implementation. He underscored the need for the government to stay away from business as it’s inefficient in application of resources and called on the government to play its primary role of regulating the agriculture sector.
Mr. Chris Wilson, Chair Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Sector board presented the progress of the Agriculture Sector and emerging opportunities in the Big four. He highlighted that the agriculture sector plays a fundamental role and thus its significance should not be underestimated given that approximately as 30 million people and directly and indirectly dependent on agriculture. He emphasized the significant contribution of small scale farmers noting that they represent about 99 percent of the estimated 5 million farmers in Kenya consisting about 2.5 million maize farmers, 0.5 million dairy farmers and about 0.6 million sugarcane farmers.
Chris observed that the key challenges holding back the agriculture sector were low productivity and wastage. Kenyan farmers produce 7 bags of maize per acre and the average post-harvest losses are about 20%. He highlighted that low productivity could easily be addressed by availing appropriate information (through mobile apps) and quality inputs to farmers and this would reduce the cost of production and cost of food in the country. On the recent regulations proposed by Government that had caused jitters in the sector, Chris called on stakeholders to unite in order to ensure gains made are not reversed. Further, he called for private sector involvement at all stages of the drafting of regulations.
Dr. Amit N. Thakker, chairman, Kenya Health Federation (KHF) gave a comparative journey of Kenya Healthcare Federation in bid to inspire a similar journey for the Agriculture sector.
He informed participants that the journey of health sector federation started in 2003 at a time when patients were struggling with affordability of healthcare and human resources for health were very few. During the same time a bill on National Social Health Insurance was tabled in parliament. The bill was imposed unrealistic financing options which were detrimental to private sector. As a result stakeholders in the health sector resolved to unite. KHF started off as a 7 member organization and has grown to 182 members who pay and annual subscription of US $500. The federation inclusive to all and membership is composed of 3 categories – Professional Association (Doctors, Pharmacists and Nurses), Institution Association (Pharmaceuticals, insurances, hospitals) and Organization (Corporates, NGOs, CSOs, Commercial Entities).
Dr. Amit highlighted achievements made by KHF since its formation in 2004 and through its continuous engagement with the government as well as various agencies on issues relating to health policies, taxes, regulations and pricing. He added that KHF had managed to create opportunities for its members at various forums and events where they get to network and engage with a diverse range of stakeholders from the public and private sector. Dr. Amit pointed out that KHF had managed to expand its wings in the East Africa region and throughout Africa by inspiring other countries to form similar federations in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Further, KHF was instrumental in the establishment of the Eat Africa Health Care Federation, AU Health Care Federation
Mr. Vimal Shah, Chair Bidco Africa Group presented the strategies for success in the business of agriculture and sustaining policy dialogues. He emphasized that it was the private sector role to achieve food security given that farmers are private sector players. He observed that as the population continues to grow the opportunity for the private sector to feed the population also increases. Vimal observed that Kenya had the skills to deliver the transformation required in the agriculture sector as we are global leaders in horticulture exports and what is required is for the private sector to come together and have a solid voice that offers solutions to the problems affecting the sector. He called on stakeholders to avoid from politicizing issues in agriculture sector.
During the plenary session it was agreed that for change to happen in the agriculture sector stakeholders to have to desire and express discomfort with the status quo, outline a clear vision for the future and have a clear action plan. In conclusion a subcommittee composed of 10 members was formed and tasked with formulation of a strategy for unifying the sector and to report back to members in 2 weeks’ time.