Farmers have come out all guns blazing against regulations seeking to ban the use of manure, the government wants to criminalize use of animal dung in the production of food crops, contradicting its own policy that seeks to promote organic farming across the country.
Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Thursday, smallholder farmers protesting against the suspended dairy regulations proposed by the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) also questioned the motive behind the move to ban use of manure saying it will be a disservice to farmers.
Led by Eric Marete, a smallholder dairy farmer based in Kitengela, Kajiado County, the farmers called on the government to drop the bill.
“This regulations if implemented will be counter-productive. Most farmers in Kenya practice mixed farming meaning they can source manure from their animal sheds and transfer it to their crop fields. I do not see how this makes any sense and I am sure a large majority of the farmers will agree with me,” said Marete.
Backing his point, Marete himself a mixed farmer posed: “There are large scale farmers in Kangundo, Machakos County and other parts of the country who own up to 300 cows, that means that they rack up 2-3 tonnes of manure daily. Where will they take the dung if they cannot use it in their farms?”
The Crops (Food Crops) Regulations 2018 propose criminalising growing crops using manure next to sites that could lead to the contamination of soil, air and water.
This means that farmers will not be able to grow any commodity at the same place they rear their animals.
Conversely, the rules drafted by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) also proposes a jail term of upto three years for farmers who obstruct food-crops inspector from accessing their farm or processing premises.
The government is also seeking to ban farmers from growing crops in land meant for for disposal of garbage and industrial waste, sanitary waste management, mining, roadsides and sites with a history of flooding.
And as it would be expected the bill has faced a lot of resistance from Kenyans online who aver that it is retrogressive.
— anthonykitema (@anthonykitema) March 27, 2019
This so called crop bill that criminalises use of animal manure does not make sense to me!
As an environmentalist, I am ashamed to be Kenyan!
— Wanjiru Kung'u (@Miss_Gina_Kungu) March 27, 2019
Kenyans have also said that they have not had any issues with manure since they use it in their farms when it is dry compost.
What’s more, the bill is also at cross purposes with the government’s plan to increase food and agricultural production and productivity using cheaper organic inputs originating from within the farms.
The Kenya Institute of Public Policy and Research in its policy proposal dubbed Organic Farming Potential and Benefits in Kenya envisions organic farming as a game changer for the country’s agriculture.
“A lot of benefits would accrue from increased production of organic food. These include food and nutrition security, increased farmer incomes, increased forex earnings, sustainable production, soil health and management and better human health and reduction in environmentally-induced health conditions,” reads the research.
It is worth noting that banning manure means that farmers will be forced to substitute it with fertilizer which will give companies that produce the product unanticipated business.