The Senate Ad Hoc committee has vowed to come up with strategies through making policies in which will end the challenges facing farmers across the country.
The tea farmers have been crying over the numerous taxation, delay in the collection of tea leaves, marketing, cartels hawking and low payment on the bonuses.
Speaking on Thursday at Kisii in a meeting with stakeholders from tea sector in a move to find first hand information and views from farmers, the chair Aaron Cheruiyot said through the findings they will be able to come up with solutions which will help the sector.
The chair noted that tea farmers have been earning low bonus income due to cartels who purchase at throw price.
“We should come up with the policy to safeguard our farmers, it really hurts us on what our farmers are earning. As a committee we want to get findings and criteria used during bonuses. For example, Gusii region you find out that farmers earn low income compared to other parts,” Mr Cheruiyot said.
He stated that they are going to ensure that they equalize tea bonuses.
He further said that it should be noted that earnings from tea in Kisii does not commensurate with time and resources our farmers spend on the value chain despite tea being the country’s most important cash crop .
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala on his part said, they are going to come up with the policy to fund farmers.
“We are going to ensure that farmers are given loans same like tenderprenuers,” Mr Malala said.
Mr Malala said that the policy will bar cartels hawking tea who have positioned themselves only to harvest the farmers sweat in the tea market center.
He added that that sugar cane, maize and coffee collapsed through the power of cartels who have not grown any of the agricultural products but they are the big beneficiaries of these products.
“Tea which is the main export is slowly collapsing because of certain individuals who have positioned themselves in the tea market which we as a committee will eradicate in this industry,” said Malala
They also asked Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) to collaborate and extend services to County government by empowering farmers.
Kisii County governor James Ongwae asked the Senate to remove numerous taxes from tea .
According to him, farmers have been decrying over numerous taxation on tea.
The governor said that government should motivate tea farmers with the supply of seedlings and fertilizer.
Mr Ongwae stated that tea farmers should embrace and adopt modern technology to improve farming and increase produce..
He asked the Senate to come out with the policy to fund tea factories.
He noted that KTDA extension services has not been harmonized as it is required.
Mr Ongwae stated that the Senate should ensure that the issue of tea collection delay should be dealt with.
“As a Senate you should find out why there’s delay on the collection of green leaves from tea buying centres,”he said.
According to the governor, farmers were decrying over impassable roads especially during rainy seasons which might have led to the delay of the collection.
Mr Ongwae asked the Senate to find out the management of the factories.
“Our small scale farmers are challenged by high cost of production, poor market due to tea hawking by middle men and poor payment,” said Ongwae
Deputy Governor Joash Maangi said, it’s their hope that the findings from this visit will be used in making policies and legal amendments to improve production and benefits to farmers.
He called KTDA which is a key player between tea growers and the market should start working closely with the county governments.
Kericho senator Aron Cheruiyot said the committee has five months to come up with a report of challenges tea growers face and come up with possible solutions.
“We as the committee we don’t want tea sector to face the same challenges that maize is currently facing,” said Cheruiyot.
Kisii senator Sam Ongeri said auctioning by the middle men between the farmer and the final consumer is a great challenge to maximum yield which is not compensated to the tea growers during bonus times.