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Embu MP, factory director oppose tea regulations

The new regulations are expected to end widespread corruption and give farmers more money

In Summary

•Manyatta MP John Muchiri and Rukuriri Tea Factory director Joshua Kanake argued that the regulations will lead to rejection of Kenya’s tea in favour of tea from other regional tea producing countries.   

Manyatta MP John Muchiri and nominated MP Cecily Mbarire at Rukuriri Tea Factory in Embu on Friday.
EASTERN: Manyatta MP John Muchiri and nominated MP Cecily Mbarire at Rukuriri Tea Factory in Embu on Friday.
Image: Reuben Githinji

An MP from Embu and a factory director have opposed the newly-introduced tea regulations, which have been widely embraced by farmers.

Manyatta MP John Muchiri and Rukuriri Tea Factory director Joshua Kanake argued that the regulations will lead to rejection of Kenya’s tea in favour of tea from other regional tea producing countries.   

Muchiri and Kanake said the condition requiring that a tea buyer at the Mombasa Tea Auction should pay ten per cent of the total amount of the tea he wants as guarantee bond is disadvantageous and harmful to Kenya tea.

The regulations are expected to end widespread corruption in the sector and give more powers to farmers while reducing the influence of brokers in tea sales.

Muchiri said since the strict conditions in the regulations will apply to buyers of Kenyan tea only, while the Mombasa auction is used by 12 regional tea growing countries.

They claimed the buyers will feel overburdened by them and reject Kenya’s tea in favour of tea without such restrictions or buy Kenya’s tea at lower prices.

The two further opposed the reduced brokerage fee, which are expected to put more money into farmers pockets.

They said said the requirement that a tea buyer should also pay 0.55 per cent brokerage fee while the farmer pays 0.2 per cent will overburden the buyer.

Currently, farmers, through tea factories, pay 0.75 per cent brokerage fee while buyers pay 0.75 per cent.

“Owing to the fact that other tea producing countries selling their tea at the Mombasa Auction will not be bound by the burdensome guarantee bond and the brokerage fee, buyers will ignore tea from Kenya to avoid the restrictions and buy the one from other countries,” said Kanake

Kanake said the conditions might also force the buyer to buy Kenya tea at a lower price than tea from other countries to cover the expenses incurred in paying for the guarantee bond and brokerage fee.

Muchiri called for harmonisation of such regulations among the 12 countries which use the Mombasa Tea Auction to avoid hurting of the Kenya farmer.

The two were speaking when a section of the National Assembly Committee on delegated legislation met Embu farmers who deliver tea to Mungania, Kathangariri and Rukuriri Tea factories to hear their views on the Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020.

The committee was led by Tiati legislator Wiliam Kamket, accompanied by Embu legislators Erick Muchangi (Runyenjes) and Cecily Mbarire (nominated).

They also opposed the ban on direct sale of tea and restriction of its sale at the Mombasa Tea Auction,  arguing that this will flood the auction with tea causing prices to drop.

They two politicians said they support most of the other regulations.

Agriculture CSPeter Munya recently said 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.