A few days after Iranian ambassador to Kenya Jafar Barmaki visited
Bomet to oversee the flagging off of the ‘first consignment of tea’ being sold directly to his country, questions have arisen on what the deal entails.
Several leaders and residents have taken on Bomet governor Hillary
Barchok for allegedly playing politics with tea matters in a bid to
win the confidence of the tea farmers from the region.
Barchok has been opposed to the new tea regulations and even moved to
court challenging the section barring direct tea sales.
Following the recent reprieve where the Bomet high court suspended the
implementation of the section, the governor expressed his happiness
and vowed to forge ahead with the negotiations about the deal.
He invited the ambassador to the county on Friday where they held talks and later flagged off a truck carrying goods said to be tea.
The event had earlier been planned for Motigo tea factory in Bomet central was later cancelled.
During the event at the governor’s office, there was no representation from the Kenya tea development authority (KTDA), a
clear indication it is opposed to the idea by the county.
Directors from respective tea factories in the region instead held their board meetings on the day with most of those who spoke to us saying they had not been invited.
“We support the government in the ongoing implementation of tea reforms…if the governor is genuine in what he is doing what did he not invite us, he should stop duping the tea farmers for his own political interests in fact as a matter of fact all the tea produced
by KTDA will be sold through the right channel,” said one of the directors.
In what rendered the whole exercise fishy, the trailer had its registration number plates and its company concealed.
It is also unclear as to the quantity of tea the truck carried, the selling price and the factory from which the tea was sourced from.
Our efforts to get more details from the governor went unsuccessful.
Communication from his office only stated that 81 tons of tea were sold on that day and that the two other trucks with the same consignment had already left Bomet for Mombasa.
Dr Julius Kones who is a member of the commodity fund has already
poked holes into the deal confirming that no tea from all the nine KTDA-managed factories of Kapkoros, Tirgaga, Motigo, Olenguruone,
Mogogosiek, Kobel, Boito, Rorok and Kapset left the factory for the
alleged direct sale.
He further stated that there was no public participation on this issue
and most farmers are not conversant with the content of the deal signed between the County and the Iran Government or the investors.
“Since the ambassador of Iran to Kenya has so far attended two functions related to this matter in Bomet, one would then expect that such serious bilateral agreements are formal and publicized… So what exactly was in the Truck? If indeed there was Tea in it, where did it come from? Or was it sand harvested and Kyogong quarry?” he posed.