There is need for devolved units to be given a bigger role in the production and sale of tea for the industry to flourish.
Tabling presentations before the National Parliament Delegated Legislation Committee at Mudete Tea Factory over the weekend, Vihiga Governor Dr. Wilber Ottichillo said that the need for counties to be given powers to issue manufacturing licenses and even authority to license tea firms and packers is long overdue.
“Since Agriculture is a devolved function, it is logical to allow counties to have a major say in the production and sale of tea,” he said.
The governor further stated that as a way of promoting the sector, county governments should be given the mandate to spearhead the process of picking tea inspectors.
Stakeholders present during the hearings opposed new regulations being fronted by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture which will see all factories sell the produce through auction as opposed to direct sale.
Led by Javan Mukavane a board member at Mudete Tea Factory, the stakeholders said the move will see a reduction in income generation.
The stakeholders also opposed a directive by the government to all tea factories to pay farmers 50 per cent of the value of the tea delivered while the remaining percentage be done as monthly installments claiming this will create logistical challenges since tea sales take three months.
Farmers present during the exercise also opposed a move by the government to reduce the number of directors in each factory saying that the directive will lead to reduced representation at the grassroots and may eventually lead to poor service delivery.
Peter Shikunzi a farmer who supplies his produce to Mudete Tea Factory, challenged the government to withdraw a directive which bars small scale traders to own shares at factories where they deliver tea.
The Committee which is conducting public hearings across tea growing counties following tabling of The Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations 2020 in June, is expected to harmonize the findings before presenting them to the National Assembly for discussion and adoption.
“We are going to incorporate views collected from all the stakeholders before we give a detailed report to the Parliament,” said Funyula legislator Dr. Wilberforce Oundo who led the house committee during the Vihiga County visit.
Others present were National Assembly Committee On Delegated Legislation members Tindi Mwale, Patrick Mariru, Waihenya Ndirangu, Kamoti Mwamkale and Vihiga County Commissioner Ochillo Oyugi.
By Isaiah Nayika