Editorials

Munya, KTDA wars risk hurting the tea farmer

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Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya speaking at a past event. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The ministry and KTDA should sit down and find an agreeable solution to all the parties.
  • The Mombasa auction rejected smallholder teas worth Sh1 billion last week after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya set a minimum price for all KTDA produce.
  • In all this, the country is losing a major foreign exchange earner while farmers are forced to stay with their produce, exposing them to losses.

The standoff between Agriculture ministry and Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is hurting smallholder farmers and a lasting solution should be found fast.

The ministry and KTDA should sit down and find an agreeable solution to all the parties.

The Mombasa auction rejected smallholder teas worth Sh1 billion last week after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya set a minimum price for all KTDA produce.

Tea brokers’ data show 53 percent of the teas from KTDA was withdrawn from the trading floor as buyers went for those that traded at less than Sh181 a kilo, the minimum price Mr Munya set for smallholders’ commodity.

In all this, the country is losing a major foreign exchange earner while farmers are forced to stay with their produce, exposing them to losses.

Major cash crops that earned the country a lot of revenues and gave farmers good earnings were killed by dirty manoeuvres and standoffs among government agencies and regulators.

If the current problems facing the tea sector are not addressed amicably and fast, then the cash crop is headed the same direction.

Regulations are meant to help farmers get better earning while improving revenue collections. Laws that inhibit growth and punish producers should not be allowed.

While the ministry and KTDA work to resolve the issue, farmers whose produce were not sold should be assisted. It would be a good financial loss for the farmers if they do not get the tea to the market.

The teas, which were not sold, will be offered next week.

This could lead to a high supply in the market due to low demand in the global market, depressing the prices further.

This will only worsen farmers' woes, further pushing families that rely on the crop into financial depression.

Already many Kenyans are struggling from the economic fallout of coronavirus.

The ministry should stop regulations that lead to fights among shareholders. Laws should be as a result of extensive consultations as they have a direct impact on the livelihoods of many households.

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