'SMALLHOLDERS SIDELINED'

Gusii tea farmers accuse Munya of bias in reform process

They say some regions have not been adequately represented in the committee to oversee implementation of new regulations.

In Summary

• The growers vowed to present a petition to the National Assembly to challenge improper implementation of regulations. 

• They want the new regulations fully subjected to public participation before they are enforced.

Tea farm in Borabu constituency, Nyamira county, in June 2020.
Tea farm in Borabu constituency, Nyamira county, in June 2020.
Image: ALVIN RATEMO

Tea growers from Gusii want Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to reconstitute the Tea Regulations Implementation Committee he recently formed.

They said smallholders were ignored and some regions not adequately represented. They want the new regulations fully subjected to public participation before they are enforced.

"We cannot have large representation from Eastern and Central Kenya and leave out other places. We need the committee reconstituted," said Charles Nyabaro from Nyambogo tea buying centre.

According to the farmers, Munya was not genuine in dealing with reforms in the tea sub-sector. They accused him of sidelining farmers in the formulation of the new laws and choosing the wrong people to head implementation of the regulations.

They particularly pointed out that the entire process, from the initiation stage, did not consider the input of small-scale growers.

"Mr Munya says he is dealing with illegal tea brokerage activities and yet he has appointed main players in the brokerage business to spearhead the laws. How genuine is he?" Nyabaro asked.

He said Munya had handpicked and included in the committee a large-scale farmer from Gusii, a decision he said local farmers are not happy with as the person is behind their dwindling fortunes.

Tombe Tea Factory chairman Wilfred Nyakundi said the regulations were not consistent with the law that stipulates that people to be affected by any particular policy should be allowed to participate in its formulation.

"Every law or policy that is passed in the country should be subjected to public participation. We have never seen any form of it. Instead, what we are seeing are people moving around, lying to farmers about the regulations whose contents they don't know," Nyakundi said.

The growers vowed to petition the National Assembly to challenge the "improper way" in which sub-sector reforms are being handled.