Kenyan farmers under Cereal Growers Association (CGA) have opposed Government plans to allow duty free maize importation into the country from July and the 16 per cent taxation on pest control products, the Standard reports.
In a press conference on Wednesday, CGA chair Furries Kluger said importation of duty free maize from July would affect market prices.
Kluger noted that Government’s overreliance on food importation at the expense of empowering the local farmers is a threat to the country’s national security.
“Since it is well understood, food security is a national security, Kenya farmers wonder why the government act in a way that leaves the country dependent on food importations. That is akin to outsourcing our national security,” said Kluger.
The CGA chair decried Government policies that are more focused on protecting the consumers and other actors in the food industry at the expense of Kenya farmers.
He said in some cases, government has shown clear preference for foreign farmers over its own noting that it in 2017, it imported maize from Mexico at KSh4,000 a bag while it was unwilling to offer anything above KSh2500 for locally produced maize.
Kluger said, “Farmers were shocked with the latest introduction of 16 per cent value added tax on pesticides since it has made an already difficult farming environment worse”.
“With the tax, 90 per cent of all farming expenses from inputs to transport and grain handling services have VAT on them, with the only exception is on seeds, fertilizers and wages. These has pushed the already high cost of production high by between 12 and 15 per cent” he added.
Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the tax law amendment that introduced a 16 per cent VAT to pest control products were zero-rated.
Agriculture in Kenya employs nearly 40 per cent of the total labour force, and contributes about 35 per cent of the country’s GDP.
According to Economic Survey 2018, Kenya’s economy expanded by 6.3 per cent in 2018 compared to 4.9 per cent in 2017. The growth was attributable to increased agricultural production, accelerated manufacturing activities, sustained growth in transportation and vibrant service sector activities.
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director General Mr Zachary Mwangi said the favorable weather conditions in 2018 contributed to increased production for crops and livestock.