Review of the Tea Policy, Bill and Regulations - East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA)

In August 2015, the President appointed a Tea Industry Taskforce to look into the sustainability of the tea industry with the view to improving returns to tea farmers. The Taskforce finalised its report and published it in April 2016. Among the recommendations in the report is the need to undertake a value chain analysis of the tea sector. EATTA received a BAF grant of KShs. 7.28 million to conduct the value chain study. The study was finalised in December 2017 and has been presented to the Tea Technical Committee and the Tea Taskforce.

A second key recommendation in the Tea Taskforce report was the fast-tracking of the completion and adoption of the National Tea Policy to provide a comprehensive policy framework that addresses the following key issues:

  • clarity on the roles of national and county governments
  • a coordinated approach of the tea value chain to increase value addition and product diversification
  • and to address the creation of a tea development fund.

However, the Tea Policy that had been drafted in 2014 has not been revisited.

EATTA posits that there is an urgent need to develop a comprehensive policy framework that essentially keeps government out of business. They argue that the government does not need to be involved in the process of value addition, and that value addition is a market decision.

There have been various articles in the dailies addressing various issues in the sector including the price paid to farmers by the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) as determined by the quality of tea produced in each region; delayed payments to farmers prompting farmers breaking away from KTDA, and suggestions to disband KTDA. These issues have resulted in interest by elected officials, and specifically, Senators who have now formed an ad hoc committee to investigate operations of the tea sector, and have published the Tea Bill, 2018. The Tea Bill also proposes to remove the Tea Directorate from AFA and set up a new Tea Regulatory Authority.  

Separately, the Tea Directorate at the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) have developed (new) Tea Regulations 2018 under the Crops Act, 2013. The proposed regulations proposed roles of the directorate that should be left to the market such as settling contract disputes between tea factories and tea growers. The regulations also propose additional licencing categories that prohibit licence holders to expand their engagement in the market e.g. licenced manufacturers will be required to obtain additional licenses to expand their businesses. EATTA argues that this proposed regulation is contrary to Vision 2030 (creating a conducive environment for business) and represents unwarranted government interference in the operation of the tea industry.

EATTA is seeking to comprehensively review and address: The Tea Policy; Bill; the Tea Regulations 2018 and the accompanying Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) (not yet undertaken) so that there is a regulatory framework that removes government interference in the tea business. EATTA will seek to get an agreement with the MoALF on the development of National Tea Policy, the Tea Regulations, and the requisite RIA.

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