Agriculture CS say State was riding on Tea bill to pass Tea regulations 2020

Agriculture CS Peter Munya in Nyeri addresses tea farmers at Ragati Tea Factory in Mathira, Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu/Standard]

Agriculture CS Peter Munya has disclosed the government is planning to use the National Assembly to pass the controversial proposed Tea Regulations 2020.

Munya said the national government has made amendments to the Tea Bill 2018, sponsored by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, which has since been transmitted to the House for consideration.

The move by the State to ride on the bill is actually aimed at circumventing legal battle with Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) which has gone to court to challenge their implementation.

KTDA has petitioned the National Assembly to be allowed to make amendments to the Tea regulations 2020 which are before a House committee.

Yesterday, Munya said the national government was keen on reforming the Tea industry, in line with a directive issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his state of the nation address in Mombasa on January 14.

“He directed us to complete and work on these regulations which had been pending since 2014 to revive the Tea, coffee, dairy sectors among others,” Munya explained.

He said the President directed him to take the shortest time to have the regulations passed to streamline the industry.

Speaking in Nyeri during a farmer’s consultative meeting at Othaya stadium, Munya said the ministry was planning to use the bill to fasten the process of operationalizing regulations.

The CS said he had proposed some amendments to the Tea bill and sneaked all regulations as captured by a task force report commissioned in 2014 to look into challenges facing the industry.

He told the farmers to keep an eye on their Members of Parliament to identify who will oppose or support the bill.

“They (KTDA) thought they would delay the process by going to court and that’s why I decided to incorporate the rules in the tea bill. We had initially thought the regulation would be easier to put in place,” the CS observed.

The Bill, he noted had also proposed further amendments by seeking to create a Tea Board, a Tea council, and a stabilization fund for the produce.

“The board will be for purpose of marketing the produce while the fund will help in bailing out farmers especially during bad harvest and ensure of provision of farm inputs like fertilizers,” Munya added.

He denied the government was in the process of annexing KTDA in a bid to take over its operations and make it a parastatal adding a lot of propaganda was being advanced by those opposes to reforms

” All we want is for to agency to desist from engaging in other activities other than production and processing of tea. Currently it is providing so many services through its subsidiaries companies,” Munya added.

He warned KDTA from going ahead with the election for factories directors which it had already announced to take place next month saying previous rules guiding the exercise had been annulled.

“We degazetted all the regulation. KTDA cannot purport to use them to do elections until the case in court is heard and determined," the CS  observed.    

Munya had earlier on addressed farmers at Ragati and Chinga Tea factories with some declaring they were behind while others said  there was need for more consultations.

Agency Chairman Peter Kanyago said prior to the formulation of the rules, no adequate consultation was done among the stakeholders

Among the changes, Kanyago said the proposal to have at least 20 percent of the tea sold directly while the rest is sold through the auction.

“We are proposing that some of the tea be direct sales. If all the tea goes through the auction it is likely to flood the market hence brings down the prices which are governed by demand and supply,” Kanyago explains.

In any case Kanyago added some buyers who want to buy the commodity directly from certain factories.

“They want us to manufacture their tea in a certain way. If we cannot they will go to buy it from other countries that give them what they want. Furthermore they do pay us premium prices for direct sales,” he added.

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