Tea farmers in Nyeri County have demanded for the withdrawal of a case filed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) challenging the implementation of The Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations 2020.
The farmers threatened to boycott tea picking with effect from Monday, October 5 if
the Agency will not have withdrawn the case.
Speaking at Iria-ini Tea Factory in Othaya Sub-County during a public participation
meeting on the proposed rules yesterday, the farmers accused the Tea Agency of blocking good regulations aimed at increasing their returns from tea farming.
The meeting was convened by the National Assembly Committee on Delegated Legislation to collect views on the regulations for deliberation and possible enactment into law.
The Committee was led by the chairman Tiaty MP William Kamket.
A farmer Wambugu Nyamu told KTDA to stop misleading farmers that there was no proper public participation done before the regulations were drafted.
He said farmers had no problem with KTDA but the mismanagement had led to the current situation resulting to the woes afflicting farmers.
Ms Mbarire highlighted some of the key proposals like a maximum of two terms of three years for directors, one man, one vote, all tea to be sold through the Mombasa auction and value addition of tea, all of which were supported by the farmers.
Other key proposals include reduction of the agency fee from the current 2.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent and factories to hire own company secretaries. Ms Mbarire said the government wanted to ensure transparency of tea sales from the factory to the auction and sales generated to give farmers optimal returns.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, KTDA chairman Peter Kanyago who did not address farmers during the function due to hostility called for dialogue between the government and stakeholders.
Kanyago maintained that no proper public participation was conducted. He added that allowing all tea to be sold through the Mombasa auction would flood the market occasioning low prices and hence defeating the noble idea of increasing farmer’s returns.
Kanyago warned against politicizing the tea sector lest it goes the way coffee, cotton and
pyrethrum sectors went.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in January this year directed that the Ministry of Agriculture come up with measures to address the woes affecting coffee, tea and dairy farming among other cash crops.
By Mwangi Gaitha