Sack CS Agriculture: Tea farmers tell President Uhuru Kenyatta

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Under pressure Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri now resorts to prayers to overcome cartels that threaten his job. PHOTO/COURTESY

By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN

newsdesk@reporter.co.ke

Tea farmers from across the country want President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mwangi Kiunjuri.

The tea farmers from Mt Kenya Region, Rift Valley Nyanza and Western regions said Mr Kiunjuri had failed to live up to their expectations of addressing problems facing the tea sector and want him sacked and replaced by an agriculture technocrat.

“We are happy that President Kenyatta has realized that he made a mistake by appointing Mr Kiunjuri to the Agriculture docket and we want him to sack the CS before he can cause more damage to the agriculture sector,” a Mr Dickson Marete, a disgruntled tea farmer from Meru told the Daily Reporter.

Related story: KTDA to face investigations over allegations of monopolistic tendencies

http://www.reporter.co.ke/2018/10/21/ktda-to-face-investigations-over-allegations-of-monopolistic-tendencies

In the recent past, President Kenyatta has expressed his reservations at the way the CS for Agriculture is handling the agriculture docket.

Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo who has taken a Bill in Parliament aimed at reforming the tea sector. PHOTO/FILE

During the Nairobi Agriculture Show of Kenya the president warned the CS that he risked being sacked if he did not address the problems facing maize farmers in Rift Valley after more than Sh 2.5billion set aside to pay them was misappropriated.

However, Mr Kiunjuri on Tuesday asked anti-graft agencies to speed up investigations into the maize scandal and establish how money meant for maize farmers ended up in the pockets of traders and middlemen.

Mr Kiunjuri said that soon after being appointed CS in February, he had forwarded the file on the maize payment scandal to the Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

And during the Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kakamega County, President Kenyatta reiterated his warning to the Agriculture CS that unless he dealt with cartels exploiting sugar farmers in western and the country at large he risked being prosecuted as well.

Tea farmers say Mr Kiunjuri has failed to act on numerous petitions they have filed with his office concerning allegations of mismanagement of the tea sector by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) that was once a parastatal before being turned into a private company.

The farmers say they want KTDA to reverted back to a state corporation with regulatory authority over the tea industry.  Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo has taken a Bill to Parliament aimed at reforming the tea sector including re-establishing the defunct KTDA parastatal as a tea industry regulator. 

Related story: Revealed: How KTDA is fleecing tea farmers billions through deceptive schemes http://www.reporter.co.ke/2018/10/16/revealed-how-ktda-is-fleecing-tea-farmers-billions-through-deceptive-schemes/

A report by the Tea Board of Kenya has revealed that tea farmers are not being paid any dividends from KTDA subsidiaries contrary to the law a new report has revealed.

The Tea Industry Status Report prepared by the Tea Board of Kenya says while KTDA has used farmers resources to establish seven subsidiary companies, farmers are not being paid any dividends or bonuses from by the seven companies.

The Competitions Authority of Kenya has also asked the Agriculture and Food Authority to immediately institute investigations against KTDA over allegations of monopolistic tendencies.

KTDA chairman Peter Tirus Kanyago whose body has been accused of monopolistic tendencies. PHOTO/COURTESY.

The competitions body says that it has received complaints from Kiru Tea Factory Company Ltd (KTFC) that KTDA has created monopolistic tendencies to the extend that it vetoes, invalidates and vets decisions and resolutions of the tea company without any legality. The plight facing Kiru Tea Factory Company Ltd (KTFC) is also said to be experienced by all tea factories across the country.

Related story: Radical changes proposed for the tea industry by President Kenyatta’s task force http://www.reporter.co.ke/2018/07/18/radical-changes-proposed-for-the-tea-industry-by-president-kenyattas-task-force/

A letter dated September 21, 2018 written by, Ms Stella Onyancha, Director Competition and Consumer Protection at the Competitions Authority of Kenya says that KTDA Holdings Ltd and KTDA Management Services Ltd have been accused of misguiding Kiru Tea Factory Company Ltd and offering wrong opinions and implementing them with impunity.

A team appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to look into how to improve the tea sector three years ago has come up with radical proposals that could see tea farmers earn more money.

The task force, comprising key players in the sector, was formed to find ways of making the industry sustainable, with a view to improving returns for tea farmers, whose fortunes have plummeted in recent years.

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