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KTDA Directors Unhappy With Plan to Revert Tea Agency

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Directors drawn from three counties in the western region are unhappy with claims that the government has got plans to revert back the tea agency to a parastatal.

The Directors who spoke to the press, on Wednesday, at the Chebut Tea Factory in Kapsabet, said they do not want the woes that befell the coffee and sugarcane sectors.

Led by the Stephen Mbatia, Director Kapsara Tea Factory and a Board Member KTDA, the 19 Directors from Chebut Tea Factory (Nandi), Kapsara (Trans Nzoia) and Mudete (Vihiga), said they do not agree to 33 sections in the over 400 sections to be amended in the new tea legislations.

“We are not opposed to the new regulations in the industry, but we want a few sections therein be amended so that growers are not affected,” said Mbatia.

Jevan Mukavale, Director Mudete Tea Factory, said the government should consider boosting the tea industry for it is Kenya’s second export earner.

“The tea farmers should be supported through a budgetary allocation and stabilized prices to help tea farmers realize maximum profits from the crop,” said Mukavale.

Mukavale pointed some of the challenges facing the industry to be low tea prices, Shrinking land sizes, dwindling markets, heavy taxation among others.

Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture gazetted new tea regulations that will govern the tea industry in the country.

One of the regulations stipulates that all tea produced in Kenya to be sold through the auction process and the licensed tea auction organizers to establish electronic trading platform.

Tea farmers who market the produce through the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to be paid 50 per cent of the delivery monthly, with the rest paid as bonus annually.

The Buyers of green leaf to deposit a down payment of 10 per cent with the balance paid before export of the purchased consignment.

Therefore, once various stakeholders approve the regulations, it will be illegal to sell tea via private treaty, commonly known as Direct Sales Overseas.

Additionally, any tea not sold during a particular auction shall be re-listed for sale during the subsequent auction.

Furthermore, factories will be mandated to pay farmers 30 days after receiving the auction proceeds.

A single broker to only represent 15 factories at the tea auction among other regulations.

The new regulations may also lessen the grip of KTDA on the sector, seeing that previously, KTDA factories used to pay farmers Sh14 to Sh16 per kilogram of tea per month, with the rest paid as bonus in October.

KTDA with a membership of 600,000 is run by small scale tea farmers. The agency was initially run by government but was privatized in the year 2000.

By Bethsheba Abuya

 

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