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Wa Iria withdraws suit after Uhuru intervenes in tea woes

Tuesday January 14 2020
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Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria speaks to journalists in Murang'a on January 14, 2020 where he announced that he will be withdrawing a suit he has filed against KTDA, saying President Kenyatta addressed his concerns in his State of the Nation Address. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NDUNGU GACHANE

Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria has announced that he will be withdrawing a suit he has filed against the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).

This follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s intervention in an announcement on Tuesday during his State of the Nation Address in Mombasa.

Mr Wa Iria said all his concerns in the petition have been addressed by the Head of State.

The governor, who spoke shortly after the President’s address to the nation, said that since the concerns that made him file the petition at the High Court have been addressed, he will reciprocate by directing his lawyers to withdraw the suit.

TEA PRICES

“My petition sought to address all the issues that have been discussed and addressed by the Head of State over the continued decline in tea prices and, since he has given directions to the Ministry of Agriculture and cited the conflict of interest, I wish to announce that I have directed my lawyers to withdraw the petition,” he told journalists.

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The petition, filed on October 7, 2019 by the Murang’a County government, states that there has been an unexplained substantial drop in tea payments amounting to Sh2.6 billion – which is 36 per cent – from Sh11.2 billion in 2018 to Sh8.9 billion in 2019.

INDEPENDENT AUDIT

This prompted Governor Wa Iria to seek an independent audit of KTDA accounts.

Represented by six lawyers, the county said it would foot the bill for the independent audit since it represents farmers.

Justice Kanyi Kimondo issued orders directing the Auditor-General to carry out an audit of the 2018/2019 accounts.

In his address on Tuesday, President Kenyatta said the conflict of interest in KTDA has contributed to the problems facing tea farmers in the country.

RESTRUCTURE KTDA

He noted that KTDA and the entire marketing structure in the tea sector need to be restructured in order to ensure that farmers get the desired pay from the product.

He said that farmers have been earning little from their produce as middlemen and brokers pocket the bigger share of the proceeds.

"Farmers who would be earning about Sh91 per kilogramme for their tea are currently earning about Sh41 with Sh50 per kilogramme going to brokers and middlemen,” the President said while directing the Competition Authority to take decisive action to end the mess in the tea sector.

He also directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the Tea Regulations of 2019 incorporate appropriate mechanisms to ensure no one who is not a registered tea grower is allowed to sell it.

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