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WANT PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Embu farmers faction rejects new tea regulations

The dissenting faction wants directors to serve more than six years

In Summary

•Speaking at their farms, the farmers also rejected condition limiting the factory directors to two terms of three years’ each, observing that this will lead to election of novices on tea matters.

Tea farmers faction at Rukururi area of Embu East Sub-county, before speaking to the press
DISSENTING: Tea farmers faction at Rukururi area of Embu East Sub-county, before speaking to the press
Image: Reuben Githinji

A section of Embu farmers has rejected several requirements in the new tea regulations the government has gazetted to improve the sub-sector, arguing they may instead cause its collapse.

The farmers faction, from Rukuriri Tea Factory in Embu East Sub-county, expressed disapproval at the requirement by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya that direct sale of tea to foreign buyers be banned, and instead for tea to be sold only at the auction, arguing this measure will flood the auction, causing prices to drop.

The faction comprises Benson Mbogo, Mwaniki Thiribu, Elijah Njiru, Elijah Ndwiga, Godfrey Mugo and Elizabeth Rwamba.

The six said buyers will deviate to other tea growing countries to the detriment of the Kenya tea farmers.

They said direct tea buying brings about development partnership between the buyers and farmers.

Speaking at their farms, the farmers also rejected condition limiting the factory directors to two terms of three years’ each, observing that this will lead to election of novices on tea matters.

They also rejected requirement limiting each factory’s directors to three, saying they will not represent farmers properly, demanding the current six for each factory to remain.

They declined condition of paying of a ten per cent guarantee bond of the tea a buyer wants, paying of 0.55 per cent cash of the tea purchased to the broker by the buyer and 0.2 per cent by the farmers, arguing this will overburden the buyer.

The farmers said several of the clauses in the regulations are suicidal to the tea sub-sector.

They claimed there was no public participation before the regulations were put in place, demanding that they be put on hold and then a public participation be conducted.

The tea industry regulations and their schedule of compliance requirements are ready to be implemented and should start immediately, the government says.

Munya recently said the implementation of the tea regulation should be fully executed by February 28, 2021, as set out in the timelines given in the Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020.

The Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020 came into force on May 22, 2020, having gone through all the necessary processes, including stakeholder consultations and public participation.

The CS says the tea sectors had been given ample time of more than two months to familiarize with the regulatory requirements and create their own internal capacity.