Nairobi, Dec. 24, 2020 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a new bill into law, paving the way for the world’s third largest producer of the tea to reform its production.
President Kenyatta signed the bill into law on Wednesday, opening the way for the government to oversee reforms aiming to bring order to the sector.
The Tea Bill of 2018 contains several reforms among them, the re-engineering of the Tea Board of Kenya to oversee the development, promotion and regulation of Kenya’s tea sector, the President’s office said in a statement to the media.
Earlier, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, urged the Senate to pass the bill to help the country end what he termed as “those ugly dramatic scenes of tea farmers uprooting their crops or promising to do so because the crop no longer pays.”
“Fixing the tea sector is a critical step to putting the country on a path of economic recovery through agriculture,”Odinga said. “The Tea Bill (Act) is critical to ensuring financial security of the farmers. It could be replicated in other sectors like sugar cane and maize that are equally riddled with misfortunes for farmers.”
The new law will ensure tea auction organisers, buyers, and brokers pay farmers within 14 days from the proceeds of the sale of tea in addition to ensuring that factories pay 50 percent of the sales to farmers, among other benefits.
“We need an urgent revival of Tea Board of Kenya and the Tea Research Foundation, which used to carry out research on the sector in addition to creating efficiency and transparency in licensing of tea brokers and marketing of tea produce,” Odinga said.
The Bill moved to the Senate on Monday after the National Assembly passed it about two weeks ago.
According to Odinga, tea farmers have been intimidated into submission while industry cartels threaten those seeking to reform the sector. Since June 2019, in a bid to address the storm that has been brewing in the sector over time, Odinga said he met with tea farmers.
“I learnt that reforming the tea sector, while extremely urgent, is also full of very personal dangers to those vocal about it.
I want to thank the brave and dedicated farmers who took the risk on this touchy, life and death matter to demand the streamlining of the sector,” he added.