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Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Meru tea farmers back tea reforms

 

Meru tea farmers have welcomed new tea regulations despite protests by KTDA that some will have a negative impact on tea farming.

They spoke during a tour by a parliamentary committee to collect views about the regulations in Meru tea factories -  Kionyo, Kinoro and Imenti tea factories.

 The regulations cut KTDA's export role, weaken its control of 69 factories, reduce management fees charged to farmers, increase farmers' profits and transparency in sales.

A tea farmer for Imenti Tea Factory Millicent Kiende said the reforms will profit farmers.

 

“We have no other business so we tell those cartels their days are numbered many farmers will support the regularions,” she said.

She said farmers receive bonuses after 16 months under KTDA and are forced to take loans to sustain tea farming.

Mugambi Nkanata, secretary general of Kenya Union of Small Scale Tea Owners, said tea farmer’s one man one vote will help elect the best leadership, giving farmers more say.

He said KTDA's poor governance has led to decline of the tea sector.

Tea processing has not advanced to use others sources of energy like solar and relies on firewood which is expensive and does not conserve energy, Nkanata said

The farmers said despite the reforms, their assets in collapsed financial institutions and factories should be left intact by KTDA.

Officials from KTDA who attended the event had a hard time addressing the gathering and explaining their opposition to some regulations. They included directors from factories across Meru and Tharaka Nithi.

Farmers said directors who are opposed to the reforms should resign.

Present were MPs William Kamket (Tiaty), who is chairman of the committee, MP Cecily Mbarire (Nominated), Edith Nyenze (Kitui West) and Imenti South MP Kathuri Murungi.

The rules, expected to bring major changes in how tea is traded in Kenya, were to go into effect in June.

They are meant to do away with the sale of tea by private treaty (direct sales) and instead have all tea produced for export sold through auction. This cuts out KTDA's export trading subsidiary, Chai Trading.

The regulations also recommend a 10 per cent performance bond of the estimated value of expected tea purchases at the auction.

MP Murungi said the tea reforms are good and will benefit farmers. He said it is a pity some senior managers at KTDA are tea brokers.

Nkuene MCA Martin Makasi and Abogetha MCA Dennis Kiogora supported the regulations.

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