Cashew nut farmers can breathe a sigh of relief after the National Assembly passed the Crops (amendment) Bill, which seeks to include coconuts and cashew nuts in the first schedule of the Crops Act.
The Bill tabled by Kilifi North MP Owen Baya seeks to open up cashew nut and coconut sectors like other cash crops such as tea, coffee and sugarcane.
“There has been no adequate government support to the sector because of lack of legislative framework,” said Mr Baya.
According to the MP, once cashew nuts and coconuts are categorised as scheduled crops, the government will be able to conduct marketing, research on production, provide seeds and engage in outreach services.
The Bill, which is yet to pass through senate before being assented into law by the President, will see the government provide funds and marketing to the cashew nut and coconut farming sectors.
Mr Baya is also currently planning to table in Parliament the Coconut and Cashew Nut Bill, which seeks to provide regulation of the industry, establish Coconut and Cashew Nut Board of Kenya, Coconut and Cashew Nut Research Institute and the Coconut and Cashew Nut Exchange.
The MP said he seeks to have coconuts and cashew nuts identified as industrial crops with value addition being a key component to attract more revenue.
“I want to revive the sector, the Bill will be a game-changer,” said Mr Baya who is optimistic that the cashew nut and coconut sectors will contribute immensely to the economy of the coastal region and the country.
According to the Bill, which is set to be tabled in the National Assembly, the Coconut and Cashew Nut Board of Kenya will have its headquarters in Kilifi.
The role of the board as highlighted in the Bill will include regulating production, processing, grading, storage, collection, transportation and warehousing of produce or products from cashew nuts and coconuts.
The board will also have the mandate to register, license and regulate a person who undertakes any activity relating to coconut and cashew nuts.
It will also advise the Cabinet secretary (for Agriculture) on levies, fees and duties relating to the crops.