Peter Munya the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture lives and fights as a learned friend and is always looking for something to reform, as our writer Fred Makana finds out.
With his signature mustache and bulldozing spirit, the son of Muthaara village, Meru County has been a thorn in the flesh of many cartels that used to swindle Kenyan tea farmers.
His score since he assumed office three years ago tells it all as he continues to press on to ensure farmers get good prices of tea, coffee, milk, cotton, macadamia, bananas and other farm produce.
At the helm of Agriculture Ministry in three years, he has successfully managed inspire many farmers especially in the tea sector which some years ago had seen some frustrated farmers start to uproot the cash crop
With the backing of farmers, he has silenced the noisy stakeholders that were setting prices in the market and in the process were deliberately ignoring the plight of tea farmers.
However, Munya’s time at Kilimo House has seen tea prices in Mombasa rallied by over 65 percent with some factories achieving $ 4 on some auction days which are prices that have never been achieved before.
“The Mombasa Auction is now fully automated to enhance transparency and achieve real price discovery,” Munya says
As a result tea farmers will now start receiving their payments in the first week of the month as opposed to the last week of the month.
The far-reaching reforms in the tea sector have paid off as farmers will now be paid Sh 21 per kilo up from Sh 16 they were earning previously. This is set to go up once the Tea Act is cleared by the courts.
Within the tea sector factories are also now able to elect their directors on the one-shilling-one vote basis after all the old directors and cartels were kicked out.
“Tea Board and KTDA are now working on establishing new markets for Kenyan tea. The stabilization fund is currently being structured to provide farmers with a Minimum Guarantee Return on their tea sales going up,” The CS added.
Mr Munya has also ensured all direct sales have been banned with all tea being sold through the auction and a minimum reserve price is established at the auction.
Through the efforts of the workaholic Agriculture CS a forensic audit is currently being conducted at all the factories in the country and already a preliminary financial audit of KTDA has revealed massive loss of farmers’ money traced to individuals and cartels that had infiltrated the sector.
In order to cushion tea farmers against exorbitant loan lending rates, Munya has ensured the Green Fedha initiative has lowered the lending rates for new and old loans from 21% to 8%.
As part of the reforms aimed at protecting tea farmers his ministry has ensured Kinga ya Mukulima health insurance scheme that is being enhanced among farmers.