City Hall, agriculture regulator row over KPCU licence

The agriculture sector regulator and Nairobi county government are fighting over who between them has the powers to issue a trading licence to the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU).

Nairobi has issued the KPCU with a trading licence after the union failed to secure one from the Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA).

AFFA director-general Alfred Busolo said on Monday that it does not recognise the licence issued to the KPCU by City Hall, arguing that the union will not be allowed to deal in coffee without getting the authority’s nod.

City Hall maintained that it has the right to issue permits to agro-based firms within Nairobi on grounds that agriculture is a devolved function.

But Mr Busolo said that the KPCU decided to take a shortcut by running to the county government for the renewal of the coffee trading licence when AFFA had rejected its application after the union failed to provide the Sh100 million guarantee required.

The authority has threatened to sue the KPCU if it trades in coffee. The KPCU’s trading licence expired on June 30.

Assurance to farmers

“The mandate to renew or issue a coffee trading licence remains the function of AFFA as per the Crops Act,” Mr Busolo told the Business Daily.

He said that his office acts as an assurance to farmers that in the event the union defaults on paying their dues, then the guarantor will meet the cost.

“Agriculture is a devolved function and as a county we have a right to issue licences to businesses that operate within our area of jurisdiction,” said Nairobi county trade executive Anna Othoro.

Section 6 of the Crops Act distinguishes the roles of county and national governments in terms of managing agriculture.

“The authority, on behalf of the national government, shall be responsible for licensing and charging of levies and breeder royalties on all scheduled crops…’’ states the Act.

Under the Act, county governments are left with the mandate of developing crops grown within their jurisdictions as well as managing soil and water conservation.

Grenville Kiplimo, head of the Coffee Directorate, said he was confident the conflict would be resolved at a planned meeting between the Council of Governors and the authority.