Deputy President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga have led Kenyans to praise Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot for a norm-shattering Bill that will overhaul for the better the country’s tea industry.
The Tea Bill, 2018, was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate on Monday, clearing the way for President Uhuru Kenyatta to sign it into law.
It had earlier been adopted, with wide-ranging changes, by the National Assembly and was returned to the Senate for concurrence.
During a special sitting on Monday afternoon, 33 senators voted to approve the Bill that will now be taken to the President to sign or reject with reservations.
It is largely expected he will assent to it, especially after opposition leader Raila Odinga asked senators to approve the Bill.
Odinga and Kenyatta are presently working closely in the government’s day to day affairs.
“TEA FARMERS..The glory days are back,” posted Cheruiyot after the vote.
The DP said farmers will be paid promptly when the Bill takes effect.
“We laud Parliament for passing the Tea Bill of 2018, drafted by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot. The Bill seeks to streamline the tea sector and protect tea farmers against exploitation,” said Ruto.
The Bill re-establishes the Tea Board of Kenya, empowers the Tea Research Foundation and makes payment to farmers easier and more transparent.
“It promises prompt, uniform and market-driven prices for deliveries, fosters market transparency, rids it of cartels, hence reviving the sector that is a key player in our economic growth,” added the DP.
Hours before the Senate sat, Odinga had beseeched Senators not to look away from helping the farmers regain control of the tea sector from cartels associated with Kenya Tea Development Authority.
“Fixing the tea sector is a critical step to putting the country on a path of economic recovery through agriculture. The Tea Bill is critical to ensuring financial security of the farmers,” said Odinga in a statement.
Other leaders have praised Senator Cheruiyot for having the guts to face head-on the tea cartels that have always frustrated any attempts to overhaul the industry.
Former Konoin MP Julius Kones, a strong proponent of the Bill, said the Senate’s approval was the best Christmas gift for farmers.
“TEA BILL unanimously passed by Senate. This is the best XMas gift that Parliament has given to the farmers CARTELS MUST START PACKING,” said Dr Kones, who also drafted a similar Bill when he served in Parliament between 2007-2013.
Below are quick facts about the Tea Bill:
-The main purpose is to establish the Tea Board of Kenya whose main role is to regulate and promote development of the tea sector in the country.
-The Board will also be in charge of tea growers, managing tea transporters and licensing of tea factories and tea brokers.
-It will also establish the Tea Research Foundation tasked with refining the sector through research and wide-ranging studies geared at improving the tea industry.
-Farmers will no longer have to wait for 12 months to get their bonuses. They will be paid at least 50 per cent of the money generated from selling their tea every month. This means farmer’s monthly pay will rise significantly.
-The remaining will be paid as bonuses. -The farmers will also be paid in two weeks after selling tea to their factories.