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House Committee Meets Tea Traders over Proposed Tea Regulations

House Committee Meets Tea Traders over Proposed Tea Regulations

House Committee Meets Tea Traders over Proposed Tea Regulations

The National Assembly's Committee on Delegated Legislation Monday begun a two-day long series of Public Participation meetings with the Tea Trading Stakeholders in Mombasa County over the Proposed Tea industry regulations. 

The Committee, chaired by Tiaty MP, Hon. Kassait Kamket, had a firsthand experience of a Tea Auctioning session during a Meeting with the Chai Trading Company Limited, shortly after conducting an inspection visit of the company in Jomvu. From this auctioning session, the legislators raised issues over the big difference between the buying price of the tea from farmers, and the selling price the company has tagged on their branded tea.

A presentation by the Company's Managing Director, Dr. Charles Mbui on the company’s trade returns, shareholding, and issuance of dividends to farmers elicited concern over the branding of tea bought from multiple farmers as the trading company’s tea, and a failure to acknowledge the need to balance the cost of buying and selling for the benefit of the farmer.

Among the other critical issues raised by the Committee with the tea traders, were allegations by farmers that the traders, largely viewed as middlemen, have highly inflated market tea prices, making it hard for farmers to benefit from the sale, resulting to exploitation off their hard work. 

The Committee also visited the Gold Crown Foods Company Limited where they were taken through the local tea processing and packaging getting an insight into the challenges faced by the tea exporting companies.

The director, Mr. Peter Kimanga, told the Committee that the proposed tea regulations have as much positive aspects as they have negatives, citing the burden of value addition to the exporters who have to import (and pay taxes on) certain products which are used to process/spice local tea meant for exportation.

“These new regulations are good, but some of those proposals are not realistic in this market, unless the government intends for us to close shop. Already, there are Kenyan hotels that prefer to serve imported tea since Kenyan tea is very expensive,” Posed Kimanga. 

Another issue of concern raised by the stakeholders is the fact that the government did not consult and involve any of them in formation of the regulations, therefore failing to consider their interest and needs as major players in the industry. 

Since Friday, September 25, 2020, the Committee has been to multiple Counties, including Meru, Nyeri, Muranga, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Nyamira, and Vihiga Counties, holding multiple meetings with various stakeholders in the Tea Industry including tea farmers, and tea traders to receive their views on the proposed tea regulations with the Committee.

The Committee has since resolved to undertake field visits to tea growing regions, to meet with the representatives of the tea factories and farmers in those areas, as per Article 118 of the Constitution which requires Parliament to facilitate public participation and involvement in legislative and other business of the Parliament and its committees. 

The Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020, were presented to the National Assembly by the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives, pursuant to section 40 of the Crops Act, 2013, which requires the Cabinet Secretary, to in consultation with the Agriculture and Food Authority and the County Governments, make regulations in respect to every scheduled crop.

The regulations were submitted to the National Assembly within a statutory timeline as contemplated under section 11(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act, having been published on the 22nd May, 2020.