After getting President William Ruto’s nod on Sunday, January 15, Deputy President(DP) Rigathi Gachagua kickstarted the reform agenda in the coffee and tea sectors.
Speaking while meeting the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) directors on Monday, January 16, Gachagua, a crusader of tea, coffee, and milk farmers, revealed that the government would not relent on the push to streamline the sector to make it more profitable.
In a bid to set the tone for the reforms he anticipates instituting in the sector, Gachagua discussed several concerns with the officials from KTDA.
“We are concerned about the capture of the sector by various forces which are working to the disadvantage of the farmers and we want to free the sector from these forces,” the DP disclosed.
He further reiterated that the government's sole interest was in improving farmers' fortunes adding that he had no personal interest in the sector other than the interest of the local farmers.
"The situation we have now is not pleasant. It is a vicious cycle of poor returns for our tea farmers. The tea farms make beautiful scenery across the country but the owners remain poor,” he noted to the officials.
Gachagua equally revealed that a caucus had been established to fast-track reforms in the tea sector and effectively set small-holder tea farmers free from what he termed as cartels in the sector.
The DP's move to address issues within the tea sector follows a directive by President Ruto who tasked him with streamlining it following complaints from farmers about the infiltration of cartels.
During a thanksgiving service in Bomet, the President underscored the importance of reforms, especially in the tea and coffee sectors in enabling farmers to earn profits from their investments.
“That responsibility of tackling brokers and cartels in these sectors will be handled by my Deputy. I know he will deliver because he has a soft spot for the downtrodden and will ensure the job is done," The President affirmed.
On his part, Gachagua assured Ruto that he would crack the whip on the cartels in the sector.
“There will be a lot of noise when I reign in on the cartels, and I urge you not to listen or give refuge to the perpetrators who have exploited farmers for several years,” Gachagua assured the President.