Senators agree to bring back regulatory agency for the tea sub-sector

Women carry Tea Leaves from their farms heading to Eberege Tea Factory along Mogonga Road in Kisii County.
The Senate has unanimously agreed to return a regulatory authority to be in charge of the tea sub-sector.

In what is going to completely alter the way the cash crop is managed, The Tea Bill, 2018, which was passed by the Senate last week, also incorporates counties in running of the once lucrative venture.

The Bill sponsored by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot has established an authority to provide regulation, development and promotion of the tea industry and will almost take over the functions of the moribund Tea Board of Kenya (TBK).

The legislation establishes a Tea Regulatory Authority of Kenya (Trak), whose headquarters will be Nairobi, after the initial proposal to have it in Kericho was changed at the Committee Stage.

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Currently, the Bill is with the National Assembly, which is supposed to pass it as it is or propose amendments.

Mr Cheruiyot was upbeat the proposed legislation would sail through, saying it would go a long way in solving problems faced by smallholders. “This is a big win for small holder tea farmers. We hope the National Assembly will do its part,” said Cheruiyot.

The Tea Board was among the agricultural sector agencies folded into the Agriculture Food and Fisheries Authority (Affa) directorates in a Government austerity measure in 2014. Fisheries was later to be removed from the ambit and the organisation officially became Afa.

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Yesterday, Peter Kanyago, the chairman of the Kenya Tea Development Agency Ltd (KTDA) that has 66 affiliated factories serving over 600,000 smallholders, said he was fully in support of a specialised agency, especially for marketing and promotion of tea.

Trak board, with a three-year mandate, will have a chair appointed by the President and single appointees from the top seven tea producing counties appointed by the Council of Governors (CoG), according to the proposed legislation.

SEE ALSO :Bill gives counties financial lifeline

The Bill stipulates that records on tea production held by the Kenya Bureau of Statistics as at the date of nomination will guide the CoG nominations.

Other members of the board will include one person nominated by the association representing the largest number of tea growers in the country and the authority’s chief executive officer.

The Bill will give the authority powers to regulate, develop and promote the tea industry; co-ordinate the activities of individuals and organisations within the tea industry; and facilitate equitable access to the benefits and resources of the tea industry by all interested parties.

In consultation with the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, the authority will also initiate the formulation of policies and make rules to regulate the tea industry.

License dealers

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It will also register and regulate the operations of tea growers and processors; license tea dealers and processors as well as agents managing factories and tea brokers.

It is also to provide advisory services on tea production and quality enhancement, coordinate research in the sub-sector and arbitrate any disputes between players.

The authority will issue licenses in the value chain besides registering growers who will need to affiliate to a processor, according to the Bill.

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