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DP asks for withdrawal of court cases frustrating Tea reforms

The Deputy President on Thursday presided over the release of the Tea Industry Performance Report, 2023

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has asked for withdrawal of court cases frustrating Tea reforms, saying they are hindering realisation of higher benefits for farmers.

The Deputy President said it is wrong for actors in the industry to file cases hampering efforts to make the sector more lucrative to the farmers who deserve better returns for their investments in the farms.

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“Court cases have frustrated reforms in the subsector. I call upon stakeholders who genuinely mean well to withdraw the cases and allow these reforms to be implemented fully for the benefit of the Kenyan farmer,” said Mr Gachagua.

The Deputy President spoke on Thursday when he presided over the release of the Tea Industry Performance Report, 2023 by the Tea Board of Kenya at Tea House, Nairobi.

He added that members affiliated to the Kenya Tea Development Agency cannot run for elections for factories’ Board of Directors if they have filed cases against the agency.

“People who are greedy for power have taken farmers to court and their lawyers are being paid from farmers’ earnings. It is not right. It is unethical and immoral. You cannot say you mean well for the farmer yet you take the farmer to court and use their earnings to sustain the case against them,” he said.

He said the government will provide adequate support through the national government administration during the upcoming directors’ elections. He also called on the farmers to choose directors who will fight for their interests.

“As factories prepare for elections, we urge the farmer to put integrity first. Good leadership will promote and protect the reforms we are undertaking for a sane and productive Tea Subsector,” he said.

Further, the Deputy President said the administrators have been asked to work with the Tea Board of Kenya to arrest those engaging in hawking of tea leaves.

“We have instructed the National Government Administration Officers to give every support to the Tea Board of Kenya to make sure those engaged in tea hawking are apprehended and charged in court because we cannot allow criminal elements to ruin the sector,” he said.

From the report, in 2023, Kenya exported 522.92 million Kgs of tea which was an increase from 450.33 million Kgs recorded in 2022. This was an increase of 16% (72.58 million Kgs). The export earnings shot up to Kshs 180.57 billion up from Ksh 138.09 billion in 2022.

The increased production in 2023 has been attributed to good rainfall between April and December last year and distribution of subsidised fertiliser to the farmers by the government.

The Deputy President said that they were pushing for expansion of the Kenyan tea market globally to increase exports for more earnings.

“We will work hand-in-hand with the stakeholders in stamping our authority and presence on the world stage because our tea is the best in the world yet our presence is not felt to the level that it should be,” Mr Gachagua said.

He said the reestablishment of the Tea Board of Kenya had brought sanity to the subsector struggling with many challenges that threatened to bring it down.

“The reestablishment of the Tea Board of Kenya as a regulatory authority to oversee the sub-sector has restored it. We are also re-establishing the Coffee Board of Kenya. These sectors are important to our economy. They should stand on their own. It was a wrong policy to collapse the sectors under one umbrella body,” he emphasised.

The government will work with the counties and the factories to set up production lines for orthodox tea.

“Orthodox tea earns more. We will look into increasing production for ready markets,” he said.

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