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Smallholder farmers group wants US-Kenya trade deal stopped

Smallholder farmers group wants U.S-Kenya trade deal stopped

Capital Business | 14th April 2023

By Kevin Rotich

The Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum (KESSFF) is asking the Kenyan government to halt ongoing trade negotiations with the United States, saying the deal favors America and that they have not been involved.

Kenya and the US are engaged in a trade agreement under the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP), whose next round of negotiations will be on Monday.

STIP seeks to replace the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), which will be expiring in less than two years.

Small farmers argue that they have not been involved in the negotiations, yet the deal will heavily impact local farmers.

Contrary to what it says, American stakeholders in the agri-sector have been involved in the entire process through the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

“We are particularly concerned with the agricultural chapter being opened for negotiations with the American government,” KESSFF said in a statement.

“We note that an agreement between a developing country like Kenya and a country that is one of the top agricultural exporters in the world is likely to have a significant impact on Kenya.”

The forum gave an example where Mexican farmers were impacted after signing an agricultural export deal with Washington.

“Studies on the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the agricultural sector in Mexico show that NAFTA destroyed Mexico’s agricultural sector, flooded Mexico with cheap agricultural imports, and led to the displacement of two million farmers!” the lobby said.

“The result is an uneven playing field that leaves poor farmers in poorer countries worse off while large agribusinesses reap the benefits of agricultural trade liberalization,” it added.

This comes after the not-for-profit organization Econews Africa (ENA) also challenged the negotiation for lacking public participation.

“We remain committed to feeding this country and wish to remind the country that small scale farmers account for over 40 percent of employment in the country and employ as high as 70 percent of the population in the rural areas,” KESSFF stated.

“We will not be an afterthought in the trade negotiations by this government!”

 source: Capital Business