Fresh changes loom in the tea industry as Parliament races to conclude a proposed law that could radically alter the regulatory regime of the top cash crop.
The Tea Bill 2018, which is set to guide the development and promotion of the tea industry in Kenya, is one step to becoming law after the National Assembly slotted it for final scrutiny and passage on Tuesday.
MPs will make final amendments to the Bill when they scrutinise it clause by clause during the Committee of the Whole House stage before it is forwarded to the President for assent.
The MPs in March concluded debate on the Second Reading of the Bill that originated from the Senate. The MPs will make further amendments to the Bill during its Third Reading or final stage.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot published the Bill in 2018 that if President Uhuru Kenyatta signs it into law will change the vending of tea in Kenya.
The Senate approved the Bill last year and forwarded it to the National Assembly for concurrence.
The Bill comes hot on heels on recent reforms that Agriculture Secretary Peter Munya has proposed on Kenya Tea Development Agency to boost farmers’ earnings.
The Bill reintroduces the Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) that was scrapped and collapsed into the Agriculture Food Authority, which brought together several agencies that dealt with the regulation of cash crops under the Agriculture Foods Authority Act of 2014.
The revived TBK will regulate, develop and promote the production of tea in Kenya.
It will also coordinate the activities of individuals and organisations the tea industry as well as facilitate equitable access to the resources, facilities and benefits of the tea industry by all interested parties.
The Bill bars any person from exporting, importing, marketing or processing tea or tea products unless that person has applied for and obtained a licence from the Tea Board of Kenya.