The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) and the Cereal Growers Association (CGA) have voiced significant concerns over the recent imposition of a 0.3 per cent levy on the export of cereals, legumes, and roots and tubers by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

In a statement, the KNCCI and CGA highlighted the vital role of agriculture in Kenya’s economy, where it contributes 21.8 per cent to the GDP and ranks as the second highest-wage employer in the private sector.

The organisations warned that the new levy could undermine the competitiveness of Kenyan produce in international markets, thereby reversing the gains achieved in promoting agricultural exports.

"The imposition of this levy threatens to reverse the gains made in promoting agricultural exports, making our produce less competitive in the international markets," the statement read.

The timing of this levy has also been called into question.

According to the KNCCI and CGA, cereal exports from Kenya have been in decline over the past four years, with a slight recovery observed only in 2023.

The introduction of the levy now is seen as a potential threat to this recovery.

"Introducing an export levy now would stifle this nascent recovery, undermining the efforts of our farmers and exporters to regain lost ground," the organisations stated.

The KNCCI and CGA are also seeking clarity on a recently introduced import levy, particularly regarding its application to imports from East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member countries.

They expressed concern that these levies could diminish the advantages of regional trade agreements.

The statement urged the government to reconsider the export levy and to engage in meaningful dialogue with stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

"We urge the government to reconsider the imposition of this export levy and to engage in constructive dialogue with stakeholders in the agricultural sector," they stated.

Both KNCCI and CGA reaffirmed their commitment to policies that bolster the growth and sustainability of Kenya's agricultural sector.

They believe that through cooperation and open dialogue, it is possible to find solutions that support national objectives and enhance the welfare of farmers and the broader economy.

"KNCCI and CGA remain committed to advocating for policies that support the growth and sustainability of Kenya's agricultural sector," they concluded.

As the debate continues, the agricultural community awaits the government’s response and hopes for measures that will support rather than hinder the sector’s progress.