Tea farmers in Murang’a have expressed their support for the proposed new regulations even as the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) argues some of the regulations may negatively affect the sub-sector.
During a tour by members of the Parliamentary Committee on Delegated Legislation to collect views about the regulations in three factories within Murang’a County on Friday, majority of the farmers supported the guidelines saying they will rescue them from numerous challenges facing the tea industry.
They also said that Parliament should help farmers to ensure they get better prices accusing KTDA of not doing much to alleviate them from poverty.
The farmers told members of the committee led by Muriuki Njagagua that the regulations proposed by Agriculture Secretary Peter Munya if are effectively implemented will ensure them to get better prices from the cash crop.
Jacinta Kahuira, in addition, said that most farmers like herself undergo many hardships as they tend their crops, “most of the time we are left with huge loans to service since the income from tea is meagre.”
She lauded the proposal which will see farmers paid 50 per cent of the sales at the monthly auction.
The farmers accused the KTDA of establishing many subsidiary companies which all depend on the sales from tea.
They said the reduced management charges as proposed in the new regulations will ensure minimal expenses which in turn will see farmers earn more income.
Representatives of KTDA led by the Chairman of Kiru Tea Factory, Dr Stephen Githiga, the KTDA directors said the government should intervene and ensure some of the taxes levied on tea are done away with so that farmers can get more income.
Githiga further said farmers need to be given incentives like other sectors and should be manned by an independent ministry.
“With the contribution of tea in the GDP, the sector should be manned by an independent body or the tea board of Kenya be revived,” he said.
Currently, the tea sector is managed under the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) with the directors claiming the authority does not give tea the needed attention.
The committee is out to get views from farmers among other stakeholders concerning the Tea Bill which is before the parliament.
In the recent past, farmers have been expressing dissatisfaction about how KTDA is handling their tea decrying dwindling tea prices, which result in meagre earnings.
The committee’s vice-chairperson, Njagaua assured the farmers that their views will be considered before the final decision on the regulations is arrived at.
The committee visited three tea factories within Murang’a including Kiru, Kanyenyaini and Nduti.