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REFORMING KTDA

New tea regulations not good for farmers, MP Mugambi says

Government wants to protect farmers by introducing better corporate governance.

In Summary

•Mugambi says government can never be the best manager of any enterprise.

•He says KTDA has served Kenyans for about 50 years and made tremendous progress.

Othaya MP Gichuki Mugambi
MY POINT: Othaya MP Gichuki Mugambi
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

The new tea regulations should not be hurriedly implemented but should be subjected to public participation to ensure all those affected are given a chance to be heard, an MP has said.

Othaya MP Gichuki Mugambi on Sunday said he preferred public participation where farmers would be educated on the provisions.

The regulations were tabled by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya in April proposing regulatory measures to cushion small scale tea farmers from exploitation by brokers.

 

But Mugambi said the regulations were not good for tea farmers as government could never be the best manager of any enterprise.

The government through the regulations wants to protect farmers incomes and introduce better corporate governance.

It is also keen on overhauling of the leadership structure of KTDA, subsidiaries, and factories.

Mugambi said KTDA had served Kenyans for about 50 years and made tremendous progress. He cautioned people against rushing to make decisions about the agency.

 “We know a lot of crops like pyrethrum, cotton and the sugar industry where there were a lot of government involvement have all died,” he said.

The MP said if farmers got good advice they would still manage KTDA privately.

He said Parliament had passed a Bill to operationalise the  Tea Board of Kenya, which he said was good enough.

 
 
 

The TBK’s function  is to regulate and promote the tea industry and to facilitate research into all aspects of tea growing, manufacture and pest and disease control.

The legislator cautioned against making regulations for the auction in Mombasa, saying it is an international facility and if people were not careful it could relocate leaving farmers with no option but to hawk tea.

Under the regulations, tea produced locally for export should be sold through the auction and not sold by a private entity.  

The country went into a phase of privatisation so that the government could be removed from running enterprises, the lawmaker added.

He said farmers should take advantage of running enterprises privately if they have that chance and should only replace those who have not done their jobs well.

Mugambi said when there is bigger government involvement in an enterprise, the riskier it becomes, giving the example of Kenya Airways which is currently facing myriads of challenges.

“So, as farmers we need to understand that these enterprises are well run and one or two problems like where their money has been put in a bank and the bank has gone under, that should be treated as an isolated case,” he said.

The draft regulations await public participation before gazettement. 

 Edited by Henry Makori