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Senate now wants Mombasa Tea Auction investigated over shady deals

POLITICS
By Moses Njagih | Jul 24th 2014 | 2 min read

Mombasa, Kenya: Senate has recommended investigations into operations at the Mombasa Tea Auction following allegations of malpractices, which have greatly hurt the multi-billion sector and threatened to cripple top export earner.

The probe was recommended even as it emerged that senior management officials at the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) have been irregularly importing low quality tea for blending purposes, a move that causes an artificial glut, making tea farmers earn reduced prices for their produce.

Despite defences by KTDA and East Africa Tea Traders Association (EATTA) – the body that runs the tea auction, the Committee asked the Government to put up a major probe into the operations at the market to check on possible underhand deals.

"The Government must investigate the operations at the Auction, with a view of enhancing transparency and addressing genuine concerns on alleged malpractices and to discourage dumping of low quality tea in the market," says the committee report signed by Chairman, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei admitted to the committee that KTDA imports lower quality tea to blend with local tea.

"In a move that hurts local tea, KTDA imports low quality tea and uses it to blend with locally high quality tea, which is sold in the market. The blended tea denies our tea the chance to express itself in the global market," stated the CS in a report he sent to the committee. Kiraitu noted the committee suspects that this underhand deal is being carried out by big-shots at the tea agency for their selfish interests at the expense of small-scale tea farmers who are the shareholders of KTDA.

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