Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has said Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is spreading propaganda among farmers in order to reject the proposed new tea regulations.
Speaking on Sunday when he met representatives drawn from 10 tea factories in Murang’a at Ndakaini, Munya observed the quest by the agency to derail implementation of Tea Regulations 2020 which is backed by the state to streamline operations of the sub-sector.
“A lot of propaganda is being perpetuated by KTDA on the regulations proposed to revive the tea sector. Farmers need to be smart on these. The regulations are in the public domain, let all read and understand before rejecting what one doesn’t know.” Said Munya.
Sale through auction
The CS accused KTDA of opposing the sale of tea through the auction which he says will block cartels who have been undercutting farmers.
“Countries like Srilanka have less tea as compared to Kenya but they get more returns since the marketing of their tea is open and transparent. In Kenya we embrace auction there will be transparency and accountability and we will discover new prices,” Munya added.
According to CS Munya, the new regulations once the case before the court is concluded will be implemented and the process of selling tea be reformed in order to benefit farmers.
He alleged that the procedure which the agency has been using to sell tea has many loopholes which cartels take advantage of and exploit farmers by giving meager returns.
“Our farmers have continued to suffer despite tea contribution to the country’s economy. The sector has also employed 6 million people. The president is dedicated to ensuring farmers are no longer exploited and that’s why we have come up with regulations to reform the sub-sector.” He explained.
He accused KTDA of controlling the auction and depressing the prices so that their companies can buy the tea purporting to be outside buyers.
“Since the regulations were established in June this year, prices have been going up and some companies have earned an increment to more than 70 percent.” He added.
The CS said the auction will be digitized so as farmers can follow the process and know the price their tea has fetched.
Tea Bill 2018
Munya said the regulations will be factored in the amendment of the tea bill which is before the National Assembly so as to ensure the operations and marketing of tea is under government policy.
The tea bill, he said if passed will ensure farmers get minimum guarantee price despite the fluctuation of international prices.
He underscored the need for branding and other value addition in the Kenyan tea saying it will ensure farmers earn more.
The CS further faulted counties that claimed they were not consulted in the regulations saying the new guidelines started back in 2016 and all stakeholders were part of the proposed regulations.
Munya downplayed the process of electing new directors saying the procedure should be one grower one vote and not based on the number of shares saying such voting system is against company law.
On her behalf Murang’a woman representative Sabina Chege said tea farmers need to be given cheap fertilizers like the way the government provides subsidized fertilizers to maize farmers.
Chege said for many years’ tea farmers have been taken for granted despite the crop contributing a lot in the country’s economy.
“We want a full department to take care of tea and coffee the way we have a department of fisheries. The two cash crops have played a key role in our country’s economy,” added Chege.
The majority of the factory representatives present lauded the new changes saying if well implemented they will cushion farmers from poverty.
Wambugu Gachuje, a tea farmer from Kanyanayini Factory said if the new regulations will not be implemented, they will boycott forthcoming KTDA elections.
Gachuje further accused KTDA of using farmers’ money to go to court to block the regulations saying as farmers they have not given the agency a nod to use their money to go to court.