Every tea grower and processor will be registered and licensed to a new body for import, export and marketing, if a bill tabled in the Senate is passed.
Presented by an ad hoc committee on tea chaired by Kericho senator Aaron Cheruiyot, The Tea Bill 2018 proposes the establishment of a corporate body, Tea Regulatory Authority of Kenya, to oversee and develop the industry. The body would also be mandated with sourcing and disbursing credit facilities to farmers in the highest export-earning industry.
“The Authority shall in consultation with the Cabinet Secretary, initiate the formulation of policies to regulate the tea industry, register and regulate the operations of tea growers and processors, licence tea dealers, managing factories and their agents and tea brokers,” the bill stated.
Players operating without a licence will be fined an amount not exceeding one million shillings or twice the value of the tea or tea products or two years imprisonment. “Every processor shall keep statistical records of all tea growers registered with specifying the name of the grower, the location, size and parcel number of the land on which the tea is grown, and the variety of tea grown,” the bill stated.
The bill also states that the headquarters will be in Kericho County. This comes after a bill to drift back Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) into its old status as a parastatal was proposed in June this year. The bill was set following a Taskforce Report on Tea Industry was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016 to look into how to improve tea farmers’ earnings.
The taskforce had proposed restructuring of KTDA and review of its contracts with farmers, reduction of levies and the establishment of a regulator for the industry, 16 years after the existing authority replaced by KTDA through privatization was scrapped.
The new authority will lessen the restrictions to provide advisory services on tea production and quality enhancement. It will also co-ordinate research and utilization of available funds and act as the industry’s arbitrator in case of disputes.