• Maina on Wednesday said only an investigation will enable the government to ascertain what ails the sector
Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina has asked the government to stop the forthcoming KTDA elections and instead send investigative agencies to investigate misuse of funds at the agency.
Maina on Wednesday said only an investigation will enable the government to ascertain what ails the sector.
Maina said allowing the election to proceed will give a chance to those guilty of running down the Kenya Tea Development Agency to be elected.
The elections are scheduled for early next month.
The senator accused KTDA officials of using Sh30 billion belonging to farmers to travel and pay themselves hefty allowances in seminars.
“They claim they are using the money for administrative costs yet we know so well that a company should not spend more than five per cent to cater for management costs,” Maina said.
The tea sector is on the verge of collapse with angry farmers uprooting their bushes in protest against low bonuses. They said they will adopt other crops.
The collapse of the tea sector will leave Mt Kenya region economically crippled, Maina said. He said many farmers were uprooting tea bushes as a result of desperation.
He said the tea sector is collapsing because of rampant corruption at KTDA.
“The complaints by tea farmers have not started today because farmers in tea growing areas in the entire country have been complaining. And the point is that the government is in deep slumber and needs to wake up to the reality,” Maina said during an interview on Inooro TV on Wednesday night.
“Thieves cannot be allowed to be stealing from the sector while the government is doing nothing about it. The DCI and the EACC should swing into action and swiftly find out what is ailing the sector.”
KTDA officials found to be contributing to the poor performance of the sector should be arrested and brought to book, Maina said.
Tea earns the country about Sh70 billion but farmers take home only Sh43 billion with the balance, about 30 per cent going to administration cost, the senator said.
Maina asked DCI to arrest KTDA officials who invested about Sh6 billion in collapsed banks such as Chase Bank.
He also called for an audit of hydroelectric projects in which the agency spent Sh5 billion, saying they have not benefitted farmers.
“Farmers take care of their tea bushes and even after harvesting, they are made to cater for transport costs from the factory to that auction in Mombasa,” Maina said. "This is where farmers lose most of their earnings."
He applauded Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria for moving to court for an order to have KTDA audited, saying the agency is not a corporate body but a public institution.
“I want to say as the senator of Nyeri that unless we take care of agriculture, I do not see the country developing,” Maina said.
He said it was ironical that some countries which are drier than Kenya were the ones supplying the country with food.
KTDA chairman Peter Kanyago said the agency was ready for an audit and even the investigations. He said all operations have been conducted transparently.
edited by peter obuya