Kirinyaga Senator James Kamau Murango has proposed a new bill seeking to introduce new regulations governing the growing, production and sale of rice including a jail term and hefty fines for traders operating without licences.
The Kenya Rice Bill, 2023, set to be discussed by the Senate states that no person shall directly or indirectly engage in the business of milling or processing rice without the requisite licences which will be granted at county level.
According to the bill, the licenses will be charged as communicated by the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of licencing.
Murango’s bill explicitly states that licences offered for milling and processing of rice will not be transferable.
A photo of rice wholesalers at Mwea, Kirinyaga County.
Kenya News Agency
“A person who contravenes the provisions (operating without a licence) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Ksh1 million or twice the value of the rice or the rice products whichever is greater or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both,” the Bill proposes.
Millers who are issued licences will risk revocation of the permit should they cease to carry out the business for which the licence was issued.
In streamlining the industry, licences will also be offered to rice farmers at the county level.
“A person or entity shall not carry out the business of a rice grower, rice nursery operator, rice cooperative society or rice association unless such a person is registered by the respective county government in which the business is to be undertaken,” the Bill directs.
To promote agricultural growth and food security, the county government will not charge any fee for issuing growers’ licences.
Rice in Kenya is primarily grown in Kirinyaga County under the Mwea Irrigation Scheme covering an area of 30,000 hectares.
Other areas in Kenya that engage in commercial rice growing include; Ahero in Kisumu County and Bunyala in Busia County.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, over 300,000 rice farmers provide labour and earn their livelihood out of economic activity.
A rice farm in Mwea Irrigation Scheme.