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Team picked to oversee reforms in tea industry

Tuesday June 30 2020
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A tea farmer in Kahuru village in Mathira, Nyeri County. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By IRENE MUGO

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has appointed an eight-member team to oversee the implementation of regulations that seek to make tea farming a lucrative venture.

The regulations, which come alongside structural reforms in the tea industry, are expected to see farmers earn more from their produce.

According to the CS, the regulations are also aimed at protecting farmers by dismantling cartels that govern the multi-billion industry.

The national steering committee on the implementation of tea regulations will be chaired by veteran tea broker Jacob Kamau Kihiu, with former PS Irungu Nyakera, former MP Langat Magerer, Fredrick Muthuri Muriithi and Nation Editor John Kamau as members.

Other members are former Tea Board of Kenya director David Chomba Gachoki, Catherine Nyamboke Mogeni, who hails from a family of large-scale tea farmers, the late John Michuki’s daughter, Ms Wanja Michuki and a Mr Fredrick.

The proposed regulations will be buttressed by a series of technical policy and administrative studies that are underway, which are expected to provide a solid evidence basis for further reforms in the future.

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According to a gazette notice, the studies will cover a wide scope of the reforms and will focus on upstream and apex institutions.

This will include proposing a necessary reform to transform the Kenya Tea Auction into an efficient and transparent Commodity Exchange free of insider trading and capture by vested interests.

The study will also identify changes on the role of the Kenya Tea Development Agency in the management of smallholder tea growers as well as establish a Tea Price Stabilisation Fund to underwrite risks associated with price volatility and low earnings by farmers.

The committee has been mandated to evaluate the policy, regulatory and administrative reforms in the tea value chain.

The committee members are to receive and review written submissions from sector players on key regulatory and policy issues relevant to strengthening the entire value chain.

The team is also tasked with empowering smallholder tea farmers and giving them control over the handling, storage, sale and earnings from their produce.

The committee will subsequently develop an overall reform strategy and implementation plan.

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