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Section of KTDA Directors want Tea Board back

A  section of KTDA directors from Murang’a county want reinstatement of the defunct Tea Board of Kenya so as to revitalize the sub sector.

The Directors, drawn from 10 tea factories in the county have said lack of Tea Board has posed challenges in marketing of the produce in international markets.

Led by the  Chairman of Makomboki Tea Factory in Kigumo sub county, Erastus Gakuya, the directors said they have been struggling to source for markets from overseas countries, a responsibility which should be entrusted to a Tea Board.

Gakuya said some years back, when the Tea Board was in place, marketing of their produce was not a challenge as being experienced now.

The  Kenya Tea Board was scrapped five years ago when the ministry of agriculture was restructuring several agricultural sectors, placing the tea directorate under the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA).

The  Directors  speaking  on Friday, when they received sanitizers and face masks to cushion tea farmers and factory workers from contracting Covid-19, observed that a bill is in parliament seeking to revive the board.

Gakuya asked the legislators to hasten legislation of the bill so as to have the board back and help farmers get better markets for their tea.

“Currently, directors among other stakeholders seek markets from overseas countries and their efforts always don’t bear better much fruits. This time round as the world is faced with a global pandemic, marketing of tea is faced by many challenges,” he added.

The director’s sentiments come at a time when the Agriculture CS, Peter Munya is working to implement some regulations aimed at streamlining marketing of tea and also reduce number of its factory directors.

A Director with Gacharage Tea factory, Solomon Kagema said the regulations by Munya on marketing of tea need sober consultations before roll out.

He said some of proposed regulations are not practical and if enforced will bring down the tea sub sector.

“KTDA plays a key role in the tea sub sector and we request the CS to listen to us before implementation of the proposed regulations. He singled out the regulation that restricts marketing of tea be done at the factory level, saying it does not make economic,” added Kagema.

Last month, Munya came up with a raft of proposals aimed at eliminating cartels in the sector, which for a long time has occasioned minimal returns to farmers.

In drafting the new regulations, the government stated that tea sector is currently undermined by manipulation and the predatory behavior of some of the actors in the value chain.

And although KTDA is not comfortable with the move, Munya noted that for a long time the tea value chain in the country has been constrained by structural challenges, thus undermining the sector’s ability to achieve full potential in export earnings, job creation and better incomes.

He further proposed that all tea produced in the country for the export market be sold exclusively through the auction process.

Meanwhile, the directors requested the government to cushion farmers from the hard times during the pandemic period by providing them with subsidized farm inputs.

They said currently farmers cannot access cheap fertilizers and are forced to buy the commodity at high prices.

By  Bernard Munyao

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