Senate to convene sitting over falling tea prices

Farm workers use tea picking machines at a tea farm in Nandi Hills in Nandi County. Reduced prices in bonus payment for tea farmers this year has discouraged the produce growers. They are calling on the Parliamentary committee on Agriculture to intervene to protect the farmers. 25-09-2014. PHOTOS BY: KEVIN TUNOI

Nairobi; Kenya: Senate Committee on Agriculture has convened a conference with all tea stakeholders in the country to deliberate on a way forward following tumbling tea prices.
The two day Conference to be held at Safari Park hotel, according to Bomet Senator Prof Wilfred Lesan seeks to find a solution to the tea sector.
Speaking at St. Monica Girls Chebagang'a in Konoin on Saturday, Senator Lesan said the conference was prompted by a variance in tea price pay-out to farmers from various parts of the country in this year's bonus payment.
"Through the conference we want to know why there are some places in the country which has not been affected by the tea price fall and the variance among the various factories in the country," said Lesan.
He added: "From the conference we expect to know why farmers from Central, Nyanza, North Rift and South Rift are getting a varied payment and why the government cannot harmonize sale of tea at the Mombasa auction so that tea farmers can enjoy an equal pay."
Prof Lesan who was accompanied by Bomet County Assembly Speaker Geoffrey Kipngetich and Kimulot Ward Representative Samson Towett said the government will be represented by Cabinet Secretaries Felix Kosgei (Agriculture) and Henry Rotich (Finance).
"We are expecting to hear how far the government has gone and whether their plans are promising especially on new markets which will help hence the pay-out to farmers," Prof Lesan said.
The senator warned that if the issues affecting the tea sector are not addressed with urgency there would be a crisis among small scale farmers who depend on the cash crop.
The conference comes in the wake of a drive by a section of members of County Assembly to organized a local referendum to compel the government to overhaul the tea sector with a view of improve the income for farmers.
The MCAs led by Kapletundo Ward Representative Bernard Ngeno said there is urgent need to devolve the sector and allow counties to manage and sell their tea for maximum benefit for local farmers.