Friday, May 29, 2009



May 29 2009

By Patrick Mathangani and Benson Kathuri

The coffee and tea auctions are to be disbanded by the end of the year, Agriculture Minister William Ruto has said.

Ruto said instead of selling through the auctions, coffee and tea would be branded and sold as premium Kenyan products.

However, a section of the players in the tea industry argued the existence of the Mombasa Tea Auction is not a hindrance to value addition in the tea industry.

"Even in countries that have succeeded in value addition efforts like India and Sri Lanka, the auctions still exist and tea packed is first sold in the auction," said Kipkurui Langat, managing director of the East Africa Tea Traders Association that runs the Mombasa auction.

Ruto had on Wednesday said the move to abolish the auctions would improve prices and fortunes for farmers, who have been battered by poor prices in recent years.

He said the auctions were being used to exploit farmers as their high-quality produce is used to blend other lowly products from other countries.

"What has been going on is unacceptable," Ruto said in Karatina Town. " We want to have our own brand so that we get value for our work."

37th branch

He was speaking when he officially opened Agriculture Finance Corporation’s (AFC) new branch in the town. It is the corporation’s 37th branch.

Ruto said those who buy the produce at the auctions take it to other countries for packaging, where they more than double the price and make super profits.

"They don’t even have tea farms there," he said.

"Such action will create wealth, encourage farmers to take care of their crops as well as create employment," the minister added.