Tea growers propose IEBC to preside directors’ election

A tea farm in Kericho. [Wilberforce Okwiri]

Tea growers have differed on the reduction of the number of directors in the management committees of factories.

The tea regulations championed by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has called for a reduction of the directors from six to three in efforts to reduce cost.

They supported the introduction of one grower one vote as a way to reduce conflict of interest in the management of the sector. The growers asked for future directors election be handled by a competent body as KTDA was an interested party.

At Kiru tea factory, the growers differed before the parliamentary delegated committee on legislation on tea regulations led by Mbeere North MP Martin Njagagua and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome.

Also in the team was Gichugu MP Gichimu Githinji as the growers said each of the factories should employ its company secretary instead of being guided by the management agent.

 Farmer Joseph Mbiri said in the proposed regulation clause on age limit for the directors should be fixed at 70.

Kiru tea factory factional chairman Stephen Githiga on his part pleaded with the MPs to establish if the proposed regulations are meant to intimidate  KTDA or the tea sector.

“There are multinational players in the sector who have been selling their teas outside the Mombasa Auction. In the proposed regulation is no clear line on whom they are tailored to guide,” said Githiga.

 They told the MPs the number of the directors should be factored according to the size of the tea factories as some could be small.

 At Nduti tea factory in Kandara, the growers only allowed Gacharage factory Chairman Mr Paul Kagema to address the committee saying others were against the regulations.  

Njagagua said the MPs were interested to get views from the growers to enable them to come up with the legislation for the interest of smallholders.

“We have received a memorandum from KTDA who rubbished them. This time we are out to listen to the growers to confirm if they gave the views,” said Njagagua.

The road to reform in the tea sector startsed two years ago after the management of Kiru tea factory led by lawyer Chege Kirundi demanded for a forensic audit in the operations of KTDA, before they sign a fresh management contract.

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