• Senators unanimously endorsed a report by an ad hoc committee that recommended the formation of a commission of inquiry.
•Maina claims KTDA sank farmers’ Sh21 billion in Chase Bank and Imperial Bank which were placed under receivership.
Senators have asked the DCI to investigate the Kenya Tea Development Authority over corruption allegations.
The call came a day after the House unanimously endorsed a report by an ad hoc committee recommending the formation of a commission of inquiry to probe KTDA.
The ad hoc committee chairman Aaron Cheruiyot and Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina on Wednesday called on DCI boss George Kinoti to urgently investigate the entity.
“We call on the government to come in and rescue our farmers. The DCI must come in and start investigations even as we wait for the President to form the commission of inquiry,” Maina told journalists at Parliament buildings.
The senator lamented that tea farmers have been reduced to paupers because of mismanagement and misappropriation of their money by the agency. Tea farmers have protested against this year's low bonuses from KTDA.
Maina, who hails from a tea growing area, claimed KTDA sank farmers’ Sh21 billion in Chase Bank and Imperial Bank which were placed under receivership.
“The management should be held capable because this could be a way of embezzling farmers’ money. This money should have been kept in Treasury bonds or somewhere safe,” the legislator said.
Maina deplored the state of agriculture – the backbone of the country’s economy – citing neglect.
“In Western, the sugar sector has collapsed. In Eldoret, maize farming has gone down and in Central, coffee and tea are dying. I want to call upon the government to throw its weight behind farmers and support agriculture.”
Cheruiyot urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to implement the committee’s report to protect millions of farmers at the risk of losing their fortunes.
The senator, whose Kericho county is one of the country's main tea-growing zones, said the agency has operated as a private entity since 2,000 despite many farmers relying on it.
“Since 2,000, the government has never had a hand in the operations of this company. It operates like any other private entity. We don’t know who its auditors are. We have information that KTDA has retained one auditor for the last 18 to 20 years."
He added, “For an institution of this magnitude that controls resources of at least one million farmers, the government cannot just sit and watch as this plunder continues."
Edited by R.Wamochie