Kenya: Team Picked to Oversee Reforms in Tea Industry

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

The regulations, which propose structural reforms to the tea industry, will 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 of the committee are David Chomba Gachoki, Catherine Nyamboke Mogeni and the late John Michuki's daughter Wanja Michuki.

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 evident basis for further reforms in the future.

According to a gazette notice, the studies will be covering a wide scope of the reforms and will focus on upstream and apex institution.

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 tea stakeholders on key regulatory and policy issues relevant to strengthening the entire value chain.

Further, they are to technically assess the merits of any new proposal on the sector reforms submitted by key players and other stakeholders, and determine their contribution to both performance and empowering smallholder tea farmers -- enhance their control and oversight over the handling, storage, sale and earnings from their produce.

The committee will then develop an overall reform strategy and implementation plan complete with a time action schedule and risk log for the implementation of the reforms for discussion and approval by the CS.

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