KENYA-  Kenyan parliamentary committee has accused the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) of operating without a board for five and a half years after a previous order from a board of directors to ceased operations in 2017. 

According to the Public Investments Committee on Social Services and Agriculture, AFA, a State corporation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Cooperatives, illegally approved its budget without being sanctioned by the board for over five years.

“AFA is operating illegally, especially on matters of budget approvals and hence no support to the accounting officer with regard to responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance and associated assurance,” Emanuel Wangwe, the committee’s chairperson, said.

“In addition there has been follow up on the implementation of recommendation of internal and external auditors as envisaged under regulation 175 of the Public Finance Management Act (National Government) Regulations, 2015.”

Emanuel also noted that the queries seems to put Willis Audi, AFA director-general, in a tight spot as he has to explain where the management got the power to approve the authority’s budget.

The committee also demanded to know how the governance and oversight at the agency went on without a board.

According to the committee, the 13-member board of directors oversees the regulation and promotion of agriculture and food production, ensuring food safety and quality, and advising the government on policies and strategies to increase agricultural productivity and competitiveness.

You operated illegally for five and a half years. The management under the AFA Act had no authority to approve the budget. The Ministry of Agriculture should have constituted a board and not act as a board in approving your budget,” Mr Wangwe said.

However, Mr. Audi retaliated that the management had no mandate to appoint a board after the term of the interim board lapsed in 2017.

He highlighted that the appointment of the board’s chairman is the prerogative of the President, while the eight representatives of the farmer organizations were to be appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture.

There was nothing we could do other than to keep writing reminders to the CS Agriculture to appoint the board. I want to admit that we may have operated illegally in the absence of the board. But we relied on the Ministry, which approved all our budgets,” Mr Audi said.

He said the AFA management relied on the Ministry of Agriculture to approve its budget for the five years the board did not exist.

Andrew Osodo, AFA’s legal manager, concurred with Mr. Audi, saying that the absence of the board doesn’t mean the authority operated illegally.

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