The tea industry regulations and their schedule of compliance requirements are ready to be implemented and should start immediately, Government says.
Agriculture and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the implementation of the tea regulation should be fully executed by February 28, 2021 as set out in the timelines given in the Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020.
The Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020 came into force on May 22, 2020 having gone through all the necessary processes, including stakeholder consultations and public participation.
Speaking today while releasing the implementation timelines at Kilimo house, the CS said the tea sectors had been given ample time of more than two months to familiarize with the regulatory requirements and create their own internal capacity.
“I want to announce now that regulations are ready for implementation and will shortly be followed by new Tea Act currently before Parliament. These are some of the many measures government will implement to reverse the dwindling fortunes of the tea sector and improve the entire value chain,” he said.
The CS noted that particular attention should be paid to the provisions allowing the renegotiation and amendment of the current agreements, especially agreements relating to management agents and factories.
“As we set out to implement the guidelines, there are timelines given that will be strictly enforced and there will be penalties for failing to comply with the requirements which include suspension, revocation or variations of licenses and registrations,” Munya said.
The timelines are those on management, manufacturing, buyers and exporters, brokerage as well as tea auction trading rules which should be adhered to and the government expects cooperation and compliance by all stakeholders.
“Those who don’t comply risk attracting penalties which will include having their licenses suspended or revoked. The more egregious cases will attract charges and prosecution under the Crops Act and tea regulation,” he said.
The CS directed the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to immediately undertake a technical inspection of the newly installed E-Auction system to ensure that the auction is operating consistently with best practices for commodity trading.
The Mombasa Tea Auction for example, the CS noted, will play a pivotal role in driving forward the reforms as the principal vehicle for market entry and price discovery in the tea industry.
Munya urged all players in the value chain to work together with government and play their part in these critical reforms saying that tea is too important a sector to be left to cartels and middle-men.
“The government’s goal, I must emphasize again, is to create an inclusive sector that properly recognises and rewards the primary stakeholder – the tea farmer. That cannot be achieved under conditions of poor governance and systemic unfairness,” Munya said and urged Parliament to expedite the Tea Reforms Act.
Some of the implementation timelines given were that by February 2021, no Director will act in a position of a Director when having a commercial relationship at a tea factory, by November 1, 2020 offers for all teas processed and manufactured in Kenya for the export market will be for sale exclusively at the tea auction floor while small holder tea factory limited companies shall ensure that tea growers are paid at least 50 percent due for green leaf delivered every month within 30 days and for this, the compliance date 1st of November 2020 .
By Wangari Ndirangu