Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority under scrutiny over female director-general’s exit

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By Panagri Media Correspondent, May 12, 2023, Kenya’s crops regulator, Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has replaced Beatrice Nyamwamu with Willis Audi as acting director-general in management changes at the state agency.


Ms Nyamwamu, an agricultural resource and policy expert and one of the few women serving in the chief executive role at a State corporation in the country, was informed about the changes on Tuesday in a letter signed by Crops principal secretary Kello Harsama.


Mr Harsama did not cite any wrongdoing or raise any performance concerns about Ms Nyamwamu’s tenure in the letter, only saying that her term as acting director-general had expired.


“This office does not intend to extend your stay at AFA any further since there is a board in place, which is mandated with recruitment/deployment of staff. You are therefore directed to report back to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development Headquarters… and see the Director of Crops for assignment,” said the principal secretary, who is Ms Nyamwamu’s former boss at AFA.


AFA, which was established in 2013 through a merger of several crop boards, has operated without a board until this year when one was set up headed by Cornelly Serem, a former Member of Parliament.


The establishment of the board to facilitate strategic decision making is one of the major achievements of Ms Nyamwamu’s short tenure at the helm of AFA, alongside enforcement of rules for production, storage, transportation and packaging of produce to reduce post-harvest losses and ensure compliance with export market standards.


“As the DG, I want to negotiate for the Authority to be given a board of management and have the human resource instruments approved to ensure the Authority is adequately staffed to facilitate effective delivery of its mandate. I will also ensure that all the necessary resources are available for AFA to perform its functions effectively,” she said in a past interview with PanAfrican Agriculture.


Ms Nyamwamu, whose public service career spans 25 years, had also made mobilisation and prudent utilisation of funds, the establishment of regional offices for effective delivery of services to the public and stakeholders, strengthening the regulatory role of the institution, stakeholder engagement and staff motivation part of her agenda.

The appointment of a substantive director-general to replace her marks the new board’s first major assignment.


Ms Nyamwamu becomes the second acting director-general to exit AFA in two years following the resignation of Mr Harsama in February last year to contest for the Marsabit county governor’s seat in the August 9 elections.


Mr Harsama, having lost in his bid for Governor, Marsabit County, was appointed as Principal secretary state department for crops.


The management changes at AFA also come in the wake of a recent State House memo directing all the Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries to ensure State corporations under their ministries are guided by the Mwongozo code of governance for State corporations.


“The office has received information to the effect that some boards of directors are unduly performing executive functions. These include engagement in internal management controls and operations and deployment of staff and routine project inspection,” the Head of Public Service, Felix Koskei, stated in the letter.


Tags: #AFA, #Agriculture and Food Authority, #Beatrice Nyamwamu, #Cornelly Serem, #Kello Harsama, #Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, #Mwongozo code of governance for State corporations, #Willis Audi

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