- Iran is one of the leading buyers of Kenyan tea.
- Ambassador Marmaki said if the deal is successful, Kenya will also benefit as Iran is a corridor to other tea-buying countries such as Pakistan.
Bomet county is opposed to the new tea regulations proposed by Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya because they won't benefit small-scale farmers, Governor Hillary Barchok has said.
The county has instead approached factory directors from the region to find an alternative.
Barchok said his administration will sell tea produced at KTDA factories directly to willing buyers, bypassing the auction that is part of the new tea regulations.
He spoke at Mogogosiek tea factory where he hosted Iranian ambassador Jafar Marmaki who toured the county following a deal in which the county will sell directly to Tehran.
Iran is one of the leading buyers of Kenyan tea. Ambassador Marmaki said if the deal is successful, Kenya will also benefit as Iran is a corridor to other tea-buying countries such as Pakistan.
Marmaki expressed confidence the deal will be realised so farmers can reap maximum benefits.
He said despite Iran having been under sanctions for more than 40 years, he was optimistic Kenya will export directly, opening trade between the two countries.
During the meeting attended by more than 15 directors of KTDA-managed factories in the region, the governor sought to defend the idea.
And, while many have welcomed the Munya regulations noting it is a solution to the long-standing pay issues that have faced smallholder tea farmers across the country, Barchok has rejected it. He said farmers will benefit from agreements with particular buyers since brokerage, transport and warehousing fees will be abolished.
Poking holes on the tea regulations, the governor claimed some individuals were out to turn tea into their own business venture and in the long run lead to farmers being impoverished hence.
“As a county we strongly oppose it… we want things that are clear and which are done in consultation with other relevant stakeholders.”
In the regulations, Munya is, however, recommending that all teas produced for export in the country must be sold through the auction.
“The sale of private treaties commonly referred to as direct sales overseas is outlawed and any teas that are not sold during a particular auction shall be relisted for sale during the subsequent auction,” read part of the regulations.
At least 15 per cent of Kenyan tea undergoes direct sales at the moment with global prices relying heavily on the performance at the auction.
In backing the move, the directors said direct sales help in fetching premiums which can be used in social corporate responsibilities as compared to sales at the auction.
“When you sell directly you develop strong ties with that buyer and in exchanges you get a token which helps in doing community projects unlike at the auction where there is competition for quality teas by any willing buyer,” said Geoffrey Koskei from Kapkoros factory.
Kapkoros group of companies’ board of directors’ vice chairman Richard Koskei echoed the sentiments that most of the regulations are bad for the tea industry pointing out that having a company secretary is economical as compared to each factory having its own as proposed by Munya.
(Edited by V. Graham)