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Stakeholders call for regulation on tea hawking

Kisii Governor James Ongwae (left) is accompanied by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala during a Tea farming stakeholders meeting. [Sammy Omingo/Standard]

Stakeholders in the tea sector have raised concerns over governance structures in Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) affiliated factories.

They argue that there is a huge gap between farmers and the leadership in factories, leading to lack of clear information regarding the tea sector.

Presenting their views before an ad hoc Senate Committee on Tea at Gusii Cultural Hall yesterday, local farmers, political leaders, managers from various factories and stakeholders said the Government was slow in implementing key policies to stabilise tea production.

The farmers who spoke, including KTDA Kisii Regional Manager Nathan Kirera, called on the Government to regulate tea hawking in the area.

“Tea is an endangered crop in Kisii and Nyamira courtesy of hawking. Production has gone down drastically,” said Mr Kirera.

Investigate challenges

The committee was formed in March to investigate challenges facing the tea sector in the country.

The team is led by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot and includes Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Cleophas Malala (Kakamega), Chris Lang’at (Bomet) and Mercy Chebei (nominated) as members.

Although tea is Kenya’s most important cash crop, small-scale farmers spread over 14 counties continue to receive disproportionate returns for resources and time they put into production.

Governor James Ongwae asked the committee to focus on the skewed marketing strategies of tea that denied farmers their right to fair prices.

The committee will conduct an inquiry into the challenges facing the tea sector in the country and submit a report to the Senate within five months.

The report will include specific legislative and policy interventions to address the problems facing the tea sector.