The Council of Governors (CoG) has opposed establishment of the Tea Board of Kenya, whose mandate is to regulate, develop and promote the tea industry.
According to the CoG Agriculture Committee Chairman James Nyoro (Kiambu Governor), some of the provisions of the Act are detrimental to tea farmers, especially the centralisation of operations of the Tea Auction and failure to provide for direct sale.
Speaking after a two-day consultative meeting at a Naivasha hotel on Wednesday, Mr Nyoro said that the Act is contrary to the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution which assigns the development and regulation of the agriculture sector to counties.
“In this regard, the Council of Governors will seek dialogue with the President of the Republic of Kenya on the implementation of the Tea Act with a view to resolving the issues raised by the council,'' he said.
Mr Nyoro said the CoG had noted with concern efforts through which policy and legislative reforms were being undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture without consulting county officials.
“This has resulted in development of pieces of legislation, including the Tea Act, 2020, Coffee Bill, 2021, Fibre Crops Development Authority Bill, 2021, Nuts and Oil Crops Bill, 2021, Food Crops Industry Bill, 2021, the Horticultural Crops Authority Bill, 2020, and the Miraa, Pyrethrum and Other Industrial Crops Bill, 2021, some of which are in violation of the Constitution,” he said.
He cited the Coffee Bill, 2020, and the Senate Coffee Bill, 2021, which he said are contradictory to each other, adding that if the laws are passed in their current form, they will undermine devolution.
He complained that the Bills are locking out counties from participating in regulating these sub-sectors by assigning the development, regulation and promotion to the various boards established by the proposed laws.
Mr Nyoro, who read the governors' joint communiqué, accused the Ministry of Agriculture of continuously undermining the role of county governments in the proposed pieces of legislation.
“As county governments, we have resolved that we will not be treated as mere observers, but rather as a level of government that co-creates policies and laws regarding devolved functions that enhance implementation of these projects,” added Mr Nyoro.
He maintained that the Council of Governors will engage the National Treasury to explore appropriate mechanisms for enhancing the financing of the agriculture function and transfer of resources to counties.
The funding, he added, will facilitate completion of ongoing projects and enhance response measures to the locust invasion and other disasters by the county governments.