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MULWA: Empower Kenyan consumers to ensure food safety

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Food safety
Food safety is increasingly being recognised as an important issue for sustainable food systems and markets. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Ideally, consumer safety should be a primary focus of any food production or supply system and should be designed with consumer participation for accountability. However, a lot of times this is not the case due to information asymmetry in the market, as one side is more informed than the other, with producers and processors being more informed on the status of the products than the consumers.

The quality and safety of food is in many cases only recognized after consumption results in adverse effects. Food safety is increasingly being recognised as an important issue for sustainable food systems and markets. As the world increasingly becomes a global village, ensuring food safety poses new challenges not only to policymakers but also value chain actors and most importantly, consumers. The dairy industry is undoubtedly one of the single largest sub sectors in agriculture contributing to the Kenyan economy, household incomes and more importantly to food security.

The sector’s share to agricultural GDP and overall GDP is 14 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively. Despite its strategic importance, Kenya’s dairy sector remains largely unregulated, with the bulk of milk sold in its raw unprocessed form in informal markets. There have been reports of unscrupulous value chain actors engaging in actions that compromise safety of milk by introducing contaminants, which are detrimental to the health of consumers

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Transforming the dairy sector into a globally competitive value chain can provide a pathway to wealth creation and high quality life with high public health benefits to consumers. A recent study published by 3R Kenya Project on quality-based milk payment system indicates that investing in milk quality can result in public health benefits up to Sh44 per kilo of milk consumed.

Hence, having efficient dairy production in terms of quality will highly contribute to Kenya’s economic development envisioned in the Big Four Agenda by promoting health and food and nutrition security.Consumer welfare can be enhanced through empowering consumers with information to enable them take personal action to demand for safety and also reduce their risk of exposure to foodborne illness.

In countries like The Netherlands and South Africa, to bridge information asymmetry, dairy processors’ organisations have taken the initiative to create consumer education and awareness as an important task, and have active programmes to do this.

This is managed through creating synergies with consumer organisations which essentially builds trust among dairy chain actor, dairy regulatory agency and consumers and has resulted in vibrant, resilient dairy markets in these regions.

In Kenya, dairy associations in partnership with consumer organisations and Kenya Consumer Protection Advisory committee – the legally mandated body to ensure consumer protection can work together to ensure consumers have access to full information and that their welfare is promoted. Consumers should be sensitised to demand quality and safety and seek redress where this is not met. Without informed consumers driving a hard bargain, businesses can become complacent and lose focus on becoming more efficient or investing to improve on quality and safety. Government needs also to ensure level playing field for all value chain actors by enforcing milk quality compliance to existing standards. Policy incentives for quality improvements by processors such as tax exemptions on laboratory test kits and milk installations such as chillers should be provided.

MARTIN MULWA, Programme assistant, Consumer Unity and Trust Society, Nairobi.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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