Livestock Subsector Legislative Reforms in Kenya
Since launching of the Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA) in 2004, the government of Kenya has been undertaking legal and regulatory reforms in the agricultural sector as one of its priority programs to revitalize, develop, and modernize the sector. The goal is to increase productivity, efficiency, and global competitiveness so as to ensure food and nutrition security and continue to contribute significantly to incomes and inclusive economic growth. The SRA set out to undertake specific actions in legal and regulatory reforms of the agricultural sector by “reviewing and harmonizing agricultural and livestock legislations to give autonomy to individual farmers and farmers’ organizations and to remove barriers to the production, the processing and the marketing of agricultural produce; the aim should be to empower farmers to control production and marketing of their produce among other actions”.
The Government initiated this process in 2004 which involved: establishing an agricultural sector coordination unit to coordinate the exercise; reviewing the laws that were governing the agricultural sector; drafting of new bills and carrying out stakeholder consultations; obtaining cabinet approval; and defending the new bills in parliament for enactment into law. This process was not completed within the six years of implementation of the SRA and was taken on in the next Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS), which was launched in 2010. In this strategy, detailed reforms required for each of the agricultural subsectors, i.e. crops, livestock, and fisheries, were identified and actions to be undertaken were stipulated. In the livestock subsector, for example, the Government acknowledged that “the policy and legal environment in the livestock sub-sector require updating to realign it with current goals and challenges both in the local, regional and international spheres. Many of the legislation has not been updated for a long time rendering them ineffective and difficult to implement. In this regard, all relevant laws and policies will need to be reviewed to reflect the current practices. Where none exist, they will be formulated in collaboration with stakeholders. Policy and legal reform areas of interventions include National Livestock Policy, Poultry Policy, Livestock Breeding Policy, Animal Disease Control Policy, Animal Welfare Policy, Apiculture Policy, Dairy Development Policy, Animal Feedstuff Policy and National Veterinary Pharmaceuticals Policy”.
These reforms were accomplished in the crops and fisheries subsectors between 2004 and 2016. In the crops subsector, four laws were enacted to consolidate 131 laws that governed this sector in the last sixty years. Fisheries Management and Development Act No. 35, of 2016 was enacted in 2016 to govern the fisheries industry which was developing very fast.
Consolidation of the livestock subsector legislations
While legislative reforms in the crops and fisheries subsector were accomplished by 2016, the process in the livestock subsector has been lagged behind. However, in the last two years, the state department of livestock has re-awakened and started the legislative and legal reforms in earnest. The department started the process by developing a new livestock sector policy, to replace the old policy of Sessional Paper No 2 of 2008. The new process has been adopted and validated by all stakeholders and is awaiting cabinet approval before presentation to parliament as a session paper. In the meantime, the department put in place the process of reviewing all the laws that govern the livestock sector with the new constitution. It is at this stage that the directorate of Veterinary Services requested International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), through the USAID funded Feed the Future Kenya Accelerated Value Chains Development (AVCD) Project, to support this process. This request is a result of the engagement of the AVCD Project, livestock value chain component with the state the department of livestock the lessons the project has learned in working with county governments over the last 4 years.
In the process of reviewing the laws that govern the veterinary services, it has been noted that the Kenyan Veterinary Department was established in 1895 soon after the formation of the East African Protectorate to deal with the tropical animal diseases from Europe that plagued the exotic animals. Although some of the veterinary laws have undergone minor amendments, many still retain the original focus. It is therefore essential for the directorate to review and consolidate veterinary laws in line with the constitution, especially the devolution structure of Governance, OIE guidelines on veterinary legislation and current best veterinary practices in Kenya and internationally. Currently, the veterinary services and animal public health are governed by 8 laws some dating back to 1907 that can be consolidated into two.
The livestock services were governed by the Crop production and Livestock Act, Cap.321 (1926), which was repealed by the Crops Act 2013. The new law did not include issues on livestock services. There is, therefore, an urgent need for a legal framework for livestock production services and to entrench the requisite institutions such as Kenya veterinary vaccines production Institute; Kenya tsetse and trypanosomiasis eradiation council, Kenya animal genetics resources centre, and Animal health and training institutes into law.
As part of this process, the director of veterinary services has consolidated the veterinary laws into two draft bills; the Animal Health Bill, and Veterinary Public Health Bill. The bills are in line with international agreements, guidelines and standards that Kenya has ratified or adopted including OIE guidelines, Codex Alimentarius Commission standards, WTO Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures, East African Community treaties, Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa policies and UN Sustainable Development Goals. The directorate of livestock production has drafted a livestock bill which intends to regulate the livestock sector including livestock marketing, vaccine production, tsetse and trypanosomosis eradication, animal genetics resources and training.
During the month of September 2019, USAID through ILRIs’ FTF AVCD supported the state department of livestock stakeholders’ consultations in order to capture public views on the three bills as a requirement of the Kenyan constitution. In this process, a total of 10 stakeholders’ consultation meetings were held throughout the country, in which officers from the state department of livestock, supported by technical experts from ILRI presented the three bills to county governments, private sector, and non-state actors. Each consultative was attended by the county directors of veterinary services, county directors of livestock services, county executive committee member responsible for livestock, service providers, producers, processors, and traders. In total there were between 50-60 participants at each meeting. Participants were taken through each draft bill and comments were captured by a team of rapporteurs.
The following are some of the key lessons learned during the public participation meetings:
- The county governments and the public are very keen to participate in this process and they make very useful and constructive suggestions and proposal that will improve the draft bills enormously
- There were no major changes on the animal health bill and the veterinary public health bill but participants in most meeting proposed a major review of the livestock bill because it had very many contradictions
- The overall aim of aligning the new laws with the devolved system of government was generally achieved
- An attempt to open new opportunities for the private sector in the livestock sector were also largely achieved and new areas were proposed by participants
- Animal welfare issues were considered by placing greater responsibility of livestock producers and the county governments to ensure animals are raised in a way that avoids animal suffering
- There is also a great effort to reduce and limit antimicrobial resistance from agriculture
The consolidation of the laws that govern the livestock subsector into only three acts of parliament will probably be the most transformative reforms that have been undertaken in this subsector since independence. With these acts of parliament, there will be clarity on the roles of the state department of livestock and the County Departments of Livestock which will greatly improve the services of the government to the public. In addition, there will be clarity on the roles of government in policy-making and regulating and the private sector as the key players in development and business.