Privatisation of agricultural parastatals and reallocation of resources - Agricultural Industry Network (AIN)

The Agricultural Industry Network (AIN) was formed in 2013 to bring together all agriculture BMOs and create a unified private sector voice for agriculture. It has created different advocacy traction than the individual agriculture sector BMOs.

The  report of the Presidential Taskforce on Parastatal Reforms (October 2013) noted that the Agriculture sector businesses are dominated by 38 parastatals. They trade in the sector in many cases as monopolies, supposedly in the interests of producers – essentially small-scale producers. The evidence of farmer income suggests that this model of organising agriculture is not only outdated but has failed as it has fallen foul to blatant corruption and theft. The sugar, cotton and pyrethrum sub-sectors are cases in point. The result is that farmer incomes are declining and the production base of various sub-sectors is threatened.

AIN sought to start public discussion and debate on removing parastatal control in the agriculture sector and opening up business to the private sector. The evidence internationally is that when sectors are governed by the “market” (versus “social” or “political”) considerations they succeed. The overwhelming evidence of government-controlled businesses is that they are inefficient at best, and are more often than not failures.

AIN’s argument is that government should not be involved in business. Removing parastatal involvement would also remove allocation of scarce resources to inefficient corporations from the national budget. These resources should be spent on supporting agriculture rather than financing inefficient parastatals.

Expected outcome

AIN wants to create a policy and regulatory environment wherein the Ministry is responsible for policy development; the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and the county governments have clearly defined mandates with regard to regulation; Acts are revised to remove contradictions and conflict; and where government participation in the business of agriculture is substantially reduced and left to the private sector.