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KEPHIS, AFA sign Sh130m MoU deal to automate services

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The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) and Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has signed a $1.3million that will see the two institutions automate their internal business services as well as upgrade their infrastructure to  improve service delivery mechanisms to stakeholders in Kenya and increase efficiency in the administration of agricultural trade documents.

The MOU approximately Shs130 million includes funding to KEPHIS US$ 450,000 while the funding to AFA is US$ 850,000.

The KEPHIS system will hasten the issuance of seed certificates to traders resulting in enhanced access to trade and market information, where information availability and traceability is expected to improve.

The AFA system will centralize existing information, improve efficiency and service delivery as well as facilitate effective regulatory processes in the agricultural sector.

The funding from TMEA will allow the two institutions respond to challenges in production, value addition and streamlining of the agricultural supply chains to boost efficiency, transparency and predictability in the trading of agricultural produce and products.

Eliminating these challenges will contribute to reduced costs along the value chain to guarantee higher earnings to farmers, improve food security for the country. It will also enable agriculture surpluses or new value chains to target export markets.

During the ceremony, KEPHIS MD Dr. Esther Kimani, AFA interim Director General, Alfred Busolo Tabu and TMEA Senior Director Trade Environment, Richard Kamajugo signed on behalf of their respective organizations.

In his statement, TMEA Senior Director Trade Environment, Richard Kamajugo said, “This quest enshrined in the national vision pillars of economic development, fits in well with TMEA’s vision of growing prosperity in East Africa through trade; increased agricultural produce and products trade will significantly contribute to one of TMEA’s results target; 10 per cent increase in value of exports from the EAC region.”

TMEA is providing technical and financial support to both AFA and KEPHIS to transform their manual platforms to automated platforms that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery and create e-governance structures that are more transparent, accountable and predictable.

Based on previous automation works that TMEA has carried out in neighboring countries like Rwanda, it is estimated that automation can reduce the time it takes to acquire trade documents by up to 85 per cent and transaction costs can be reduced by 25 per cent.

AFA aims to improve trade and business processes through the development of an effective Integrated Management System which will be linked to other internal and external systems, upgrading of ICT infrastructure to support the developed system, as well as provide change management support through training for both agencies staff as well as the business community who seek its services.

AFA Director General, Mr. Alfred Busolo noted that the project will go a long way in ensuring efficient service delivery and facilitate ease of doing business for investors in agribusiness.

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He expressed gratitude to TMEA which has already funded a similar project for the tea sub-sector.

“The benefits of the tea industry portal have already been realized as stakeholders are able to make online application for their licenses and registration at the comfort of their offices, a move that has immensely reduced the turnaround time and cost.

I am happy that other sub-sectors, including horticultural crops, sugar, coffee, fibre crops, nuts and oil crops, food crops, and pyrethrum and other industrial crops will benefit from the latest support”, he said.

Similarly KEPHIS, the technical regulator of plant inputs and produce including, seed certification and issuance of permits for exports and imports will improve its processes, as the seed industry is a critical linkage in the improvement of agricultural productivity.

KEPHIS MD Dr. Esther Kimani reiterated the benefits of the funding to farmers. “The farming community will be assured of quality certified seed that has gone through stringent quality assurance processes.

This will lead to enhanced harvests, hence food security. We envisage a reduction of fake seed in the market and high demand for certified seed, “she said.

The expected outcome of this project will be improved administration of trade related documents; increasing KEPHIS’s productivity, reducing the cost and time associated with processing and issuing of permits and certificates.

Traders will now find it easier to access information as the digital platform will eliminate the need for physical interaction.

The efficiency gains will be realised through reduced administrative time and costs (by AFA) and acquisition (by traders) of agricultural trade regulatory documents.

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