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Bomet tea companies reject draft policy

RIFT VALLEY
By Kiprotich Chepkoit | February 29th 2016

KENYA: Smallholder tea factory companies have rejected a draft tea policy by the county government. Seven tea companies said the County Tea Policy only targeted factories under the Kenya Tea Development Authority leaving out multi-nationals and those run independently by farmers’ Saccos.

At the same time, the tea companies said the existing legal structure and the roles and responsibilities of both county and national governments in regard to tea, vests the development of agriculture policy in the national government.

“The function is exercised through the Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Authority (AFFA) with the Crops Act providing that one of the functions of AFFA is formulating general and specific policies for development of scheduled crops,” reads a letter signed by GK Godana the manager of region five on behalf of tea companies.
The tea factory companies are Kapkoros, Tirgaga, Mogogosiek, Kobel, Boito, Kapset and Rorok.

Mr Godana in the letter to Bomet County Assembly Speaker said AFFA had already circulated the National Tea Policy to all stakeholders in the sector for them to give their input and the release of the the Bomet County Tea Policy was beyond its authority and powers.
The smallholder tea companies said that the vesting of the Agriculture Policy in the national government was to ensure that there was uniform policy governing the industry to avoid a situation of anarchy that would exist if all the 47 counties developed their own policies.

“Section 6 (b) of the Crops Act provides that the county governments will implement the national government policies to the extent that the same relate to the county. This means the national policy relating to tea must first be released to enable all players including the county to function and operate with the same.

The release of the Bomet Tea Policy before the national policy would be beyond its scope,” reads the letter.
The tea companies faulted the county policy for only capturing green leaf production and payment for Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA)-managed factories.

They said the KTDA-managed tea factories are less than 50 per cent and the report only captures one cluster, which is not the reality on the ground.

“This would provide an objective platform for comparison, but as it is, the draft policy is partisan and targeted only the KTDA-managed factories which represent less than 50 per cent of tea factories in the county,” said Godana.

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