Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has accused the ousted directors of the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) of using the courts to frustrate implementation of tea reforms instituted by the government.
A group of directors from 54 factories across the country last year moved to court seeking suspension of implementation of some clauses in the Tea Act 2020 claiming some had far-reaching consequences to the business and operations not only in factories but to the whole tea industry.
However, Munya said their opposition to the reforms that are geared towards streamlining the industry was just an attempt of maintaining the status quo of fleecing tea farmers.
Speaking while on a sensitization tour of tea farmers in Embu over the proposed reforms, CS Munya said the outstanding court case was the only hurdle derailing full implementation of the reforms to emancipate farmers from the control of cartels.
In order to reap full benefits of the reforms, Munya appealed to farmers to take action by distancing themselves from the ongoing court case that will automatically lead to its collapse for lack of representation.
“The fastest way to throw out the petition is for you farmers to pass a resolution in your AGM saying that you are not party to the legal suit by entities purporting to be your directors,” the CS said.
He said farmers over the years have suffered in the hands of KTDA ‘cartels’ forcing some of them to uproot their bushes and venture into other seemingly more lucrative economic activities such as dairy farming.
The CS said prices have never been an issue in the international market but only here in the country where some organized cartels control the prices and cause artificial plunge in prices at the expense of poor farmers.
“There is no time that tea prices in Kenya have been buyer driven leaving poor farmers at the mercy of powerful brokers who determine when to sell and at what price,” CS Munya said.
He said the reforms including enhancing governance in the sector, setting up minimum reserve price at the auction and price stabilization framework as well as reducing operation costs, were put in place to undo these ills and cushion farmers against exploitation.
At the same time, CS Munya said, report of forensic audit of KTDA Holdings, subsidiary companies and smallholder tea factories ordered several months ago will be out soon and greatly assist in sealing operational loopholes leading to wastage as well as unearth malpractices such as embezzlement of funds with a view of bringing culprits to book.
“The report will go a long way in restructuring KTDA to ensure efficiency with a view of ensuring farmers enjoy maximum returns from their labor,” Munya said.