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Utafiti Sera, one of the INCLUDE-funded African Policy Dialogues on productive employment in Kenya, held an engagement forum with members of the Amani National Congress (ANC) technical committee in Nairobi on 14 March 2017. ANC is part of the National Super Alliance (NASA), a coalition of political parties seeking to participate in the upcoming elections in Kenya. Over 33 stakeholders from the Utafiti Sera community of practice and ANC technical committee attended the meeting. The forum commenced with opening remarks on the purpose and objectives of Utafiti Sera and an overview of the ANC-NASA technical committees. This was followed by the presentation of key findings and policy recommendations on employment creation in the sugar and horticulture sectors and a plenary discussion on how to transform the sugar and horticulture sectors in Kenya.
Utafiti Sera is a platform for key stakeholders who seek to work and collaborate with others to ensure that research evidence informs policy and practice. Previous stakeholder forums have offered an opportunity for researchers, policymakers and practitioners to discuss wage employment creation in Kenya. The first forum, which was held on 7 June 2016, launched Utafiti Sera and discussed the findings of the study on ‘The political economy analysis of employment creation in agriculture and agro-processing in the context of inclusive growth in Kenya’. The second forum was held on 15 November 2016 and discussed employment creation in the sugar sector in Kenya, focusing on dilemmas in the political economy and the role of Utafiti Sera. The third forum on 19 January 2017 focused on employment creation in the horticulture sector in Kenya and the role of Utafiti Sera.
The purpose of the current meeting was to explore two issues relevant to employment creation in the sugar and horticulture sectors. The first one is the effect of the importing of sugar on wage employment in the sugar sector and the second is contract governance and market access in the horticulture sector. Addressing these two concerns can contribute to enhancing productive employment in the two sectors and to inclusive development in Kenya in general. It is hoped that political party policy and strategy teams that attended the meeting will consider these issues when developing their party manifestos.
The ANC technical team conducts research, handles policy matters related to the party, and is responsible for negotiating with other parties on matters of mutual interest. One of the issues that the team is considering is whether to focus on agriculture as a sector or on specific policies in agriculture. The team attended the forum to learn how to enrich their manifesto and to include practical solutions that can easily be implemented.
The first presentation and discussion focused on declining wage employment along the sugar value chain and the policies required to address this. The main message was that although the sugar industry is a major employer of labour and contributes to the livelihoods of many Kenyans, wage employment has declined due to various challenges, including:
The second presentation and discussion focused on employment creation in the horticulture sector in Kenya. The findings from Utafiti Sera’s studies are as follows:
A representative of the ANC technical team concluded that the issues raised during the forum were important, not only for political parties, but also for citizens. The member indicated that the team would closely study the research evidence and recommendations made by Utafiti Sera, identify appropriate recommendations, and include them in the ANC manifesto. In particular, the party will focus on recommendations that address unemployment among youth. In addition, ANC representatives will follow up on the sugar legislation that has been drafted by stakeholders, but has not been finalized. They will also work with regulators to ensure that the interests of farmers are taken into account in sector regulations and policies. The ANC selected five members who they could call on as they draft their manifesto.
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