The East Africa Tea Traders Association (Eatta) wants the government to let the Tea Research Foundation and the Tea Board of Kenya run autonomously without the Agriculture and Food Authority’s (AFA) interference.
The call follows claims that tea, which is the country’s largest export commodity, receives less attention than it deserves.
Eatta says that other industries including the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) receive more funds for research than the foundation.
According to Eatta’s Managing Director Edward Mudibo, KALRO is an unstructured organization still battling with its own problems.
Speaking during the Tea Industry National Stakeholders Forum in Mombasa, Mudibo said that tea and other crops that don’t do well in the country being treated the same is unideal. He said that it doesn’t make any sense for tea to be in control of a livestock research body.
“We want the government to reconsider the issue of merging agricultural and food production into AFA,” he said.
At the same time, the stakeholders in the tea industry want an aggressive method of promotion and marketing if the risk of losing the crop’s market is to be avoided.
The stakeholders are perturbed by the renewal of the US sanctions on Iran, which will have a negative impact on Kenya’s tea export.
Eatta says that majority of banks fear to carry out transactions with Iran after the US blacklisted Iran.
“This has made it difficult for exporters to get their payments,” Mudibo said.
Meanwhile, the traders are in talks with the Kenya Railway Corporation for tea to be transported through the Standard Gauge Railway to minimize costs of production.
The body says that by the November, the deal will have been sealed and only crops from local regions will be transported by road to a marshaling point.
Notably, Eatta confirmed that the process of the automation of Mombasa Tea Auction is still underway and it will be completed before March 2019.