Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and tea traders are pushing for the return of Tea Board of Kenya scrapped in 2014.
In a presentation during public hearing on the Tea Bill 2018 to the Senate Committee on Agriculture last Thursday, KTDA managing director Lerionka Tiampati said the current Tea Directorate should revert to the old institution.
The agency also wants the tea regulator to be an independent entity unattached to the Agriculture and Food Authority.
“The Tea Board that was established under the repealed Tea Act was much more successful in delivering on its mandate of regulating and controlling the growing, manufacture, sales and export of tea,” said Mr Tiampati.
He said Kenya’s tea main competitors — India and Sri Lanka have powerful tea boards that regulate and foster the development of the crop in those countries.
The Bill, sponsored by the Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, wants the headquarters of the regulator to be moved to Kericho. However, the KTDA has opposed this move.
“It is acknowledged that Nairobi is a central location in reference to the tea growing areas in the east and west of Rift and the tea trade auction centre is in Mombasa,” said Mr Tiampati.
He said the current headquarters was constructed using tea farmers’ resources, citing it as another reason why it should not be relocated.
East African Tea Traders (Eatta), which manages the auction, weighed in on the matter opposing the relocation of the headquarters but supporting the change name. “The trends in the tea sector globally is to establish tea boards and not authorities. The Tea Board of Kenya is a brand that was recognised worldwide,” said managing director Edward Mudibo.
He said the lobby group approves hiving of the Tea Regulatory Authority of Kenya off the AFA to remain an independent entity.