Kericho, Bomet governors protest cess on tea exports via Mombasa port

Some of the Tea godowns at Shimanzi Mombasa. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Nairobi, KENYA: Tea farmers from Kericho and Bomet County have expressed their outcry to the county of Mombasa in its effort to introduce tea cess at the rate of sh 32 per pack at the Mombasa tea auction center.

In a press conference in Nairobi on Friday, Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony alongside his counterpart Of Bomet Joyce Laboso said the cess should not be levied at the port as the move will result to double taxation across counties which is risky to the tea value chain.

“Farmers in our counties have also raised concerns about the introduction of tea Cess in the Mombasa tea auction center at the rate of 32 per pack by the county government of Mombasa. We believe this cess should not be levied at the port.” Said Chepkwony.

Following the incident, the two leaders have vowed to engage the government of Mombasa led by Governor Ali Hassan Joho in order to avert the burden imposed on farmers.

“For this reason, the Governors from the tea growing counties will be engaging our counterpart from Mombasa County Government to see that this burden is not borne by the farmer.”He said.

The governors also complained that farmers from their counties have not been engaged in the day to day running of activities which involve processing of the commodity, pointing out that they do receive minimal dividends from their shareholding, despite the fact that, at the factory level, each factory entails thousands of farmers, with the largest factories having over 7,000 farmers.

Kenya is the third largest tea producing country in the world and the leading exporter of black tea which fetches the highest market fees in the world markets contributing to about 7% GDP and 26% of the country’s foreign exchange.

The sector is also a leading source of livelihood, for the population in the tea grown counties, supporting directly about 10% of the Kenya population through forward and backward linkages.