Relief for tea farmers as regulations crack down on middlemen and Agency.
The tea industry is up for a restructuring of Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and the entire tea sector following apparent poor corporate governance and poor marketing of tea in the country and the international market.
The restructuring follows the continuous out cry of tea farmers who protest low earnings, delayed payments and fluctuation of tea prices.
Addressing the nation on Tuesday from the Mombasa State House, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that the Tea Regulations 2019 will bring a lot of relief to tea farmers, ensure coherence and also revive the now threatened tea sector.
The regulations will provide procedures and conditions for registration of all players along the value chain, provide terms and conditions registration of key players as well as guide the collection and maintenance of data related to tea.
These regulations are further poised to protect farmers from middle men who have previously bought tea from farmers at merge prices and later sell the green leaf to factories gaining more profits than the farmers. Once gazetted, a grower shall not sell green leaf to any person other than to the tea factory where they are registered.
“In the context of market liberalization, farmers have the option of selling their tea to whomever they choose. The concern here is that certain people have taken advantage of this option to exploit farmers.
These middlemen, variously known as “soko-huru” or “mukohoro”, purchase tea from the farmers on a cash-on-delivery basis, and then sell it to KTDA in their own names. I direct the ministry of agriculture to ensure that the Tea Regulations 2019 incorporate appropriate mechanisms to ensure that, no one who is not a registered tea grower is allowed to sell it.” Said President Uhuru.
In earlier years, Kenya held a prestigious position in the international radar as a key producer of quality tea, a position that has in recent years been threatened by the farmers abandoning tea farming for more lucrative business ventures.