Senate Ad-hoc Committee on tea has been urged to act with speed and influence formulation of laws that will sustain the sector.
Speaking during a meeting with the committee members at Kisii County culture hall Tuesday, local stakeholders in the sector decried escalating cost of production and low returns of the produce.
Other issues raised in the meeting whose aim was to inform the senate on how the sector can be streamlined to help famers reap maximum benefits included poor management by Kenya tea development Authority (KTDA), fluctuating energy supplies like power outage and high taxes among others.
Kisii county governor James Ongwae blamed cartels for minting millions at the expense of poor farmers who do bulk of the work on the county’s 19, 240 hectares of land under the crop which has the potential to produce 153 million kilogrammes of green leaf, but is currently managing 59.2 Kilogrammes only.
Ongwae noted that the value of the crop which stands at s5 per kilogramme was not commensurate to the cost of production which stands at sh68,000 per acre and wondered why countries like Rwanda which started farming late is earning better than farmers in the region.
He said auctioneers discriminate on the farmers in the region by selling tea from other areas, especially central, at better prices.
Chairman of the Senate Committee, Huron Cheruiyot appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to consider Agricultural sector, a priority like the government’s big four agenda in a bid to save what he termed as dwindling sector.
Cheruiyot who is Kericho County Senator assured stakeholders that the senate will formulate laws that will get rid of cartels that have impoverished farmers and left them with no respect unlike their counterparts in other countries.
He said the cartels sold the crop for up to 200 percent of what they buy from farmers, while bonus was not equitable for all regions.
Others present were Kisii senator Sam Ongeri, Kakamega County Senator Cleophas Malala and Bomet Senator Chris Langat among others.
Source: Kenya News Agency