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Food Authority backtracks on tea rules after uproar

By Macharia Kamau | July 6th 2020
The Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) is on the spotlight for moving to implement proposed regulations governing the tea industry.

The Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) is on the spotlight for moving to implement proposed regulations governing the tea industry even before the process of making the rules had been completed.

The Authority has been compelled to withdraw directives it had issued to sector players on realisation that the Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations 2020 had not yet gone through the public participation phase, including going through Parliament.

AFA had on June 24 notified buyers of Kenya tea at the Mombasa based auction that they would be required to pay performance bond to the authority, which is among the provisions of the new regulations.

The regulations propose that all tea buyers submit a performance bond equivalent to 10 per cent of the estimated value of the tea they planned to buy at the auction, before bidding commences.

“This is to inform you that after further consultations with the relevant government departments on the issue raised… we withdraw the requirement for buyers to submit the 10 per cent bond until such time as they shall be advised otherwise,” Anthony Muriithi, AFA Acting Director General said on June 29.

The East African Tea Trade Association had written to the authority, noting that the move to implement the regulations was hurried as they had not gone through the requisite process. The association, through its lawyers JK Kibicho and Co. Advocates, had demanded the withdrawal of the notice.

"We are aware that the regulations were tabled before the National Assembly on June 4, 2020 and now await to be committed to the relevant committee for consideration. Consequently, the regulations have not acquired the force of law to be implemented as you purport in your letter," reads the letter by the lawyers to AFA.

At the same time, EATTA together with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) have opposed the formation of a committee to oversee reforms in the tea industry. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya last week gazetted an eight-member team to drive the tea reforms.

EATTA and KTDA in the course of last week wrote to Munya, claiming that the ministry had acted without any legal mandate. The organisations want the Ministry to revoke the appointment of the committee.

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