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KTDA mulls review of monthly pay for tea farmers




A farmer picks tea in Murang’a. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG  

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) will be reviewing monthly tea prices for farmers across the country.

Francis Macharia, a KTDA board member representing Zone Two, said the move by the agency comes after farmers push for a better pay.

Speaking at Kanyenyaini Tea Factory during its annual general meeting, Mr Macharia said KTDA had heard farmers’ cries and the board would meet to discuss the review.

“As a board we will be sitting to see how we will increase monthly tea prices across the country so as to enhance good payments to the farmers, I urge them to practice patience and allow the board to have its sitting to discuss the new prices,” he said.

Kanyenyaini tea growers have been mounting pressure to the factory to increase the prices from Sh15 to Sh25 threatening to quit KTDA if their demands were not met.

The agency is also grappling with challenges of tea hawking across the country and the proposal by the KTDA to increase prices may be one of the solutions to the problem, since private companies buy the green leaf at Sh20.

Some of the private companies that have been buying tea are Ngorongo and Njeru B Industries.

While responding to a section of farmers’ petition to President Uhuru Kenyatta two weeks ago calling for the probe of the factory, Mr Macharia accused the farmers’ of being used by some local politicians for political interests.

His sentiments were echoed by the chairperson of Kanyenyaini Tea Factory Mr Maina Njema who said the factory was ready for the audit and scrutiny.

“Even before going to take the petition to the President and the local leaders, any aggrieved farmer or politician should just visit the factory and demand all the documents for perusal and have facts in their fingertips before spreading rumours,” he said.

He was responding to farmers’ petition which they wrote to the President asking him to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the conduct of Kanyenyaini Tea Factory for a period of five years over the alleged misappropriation of funds.

They wanted the commission to scrutinise all the costs incurred in the production of tea for the five years, authenticity of costs of the tea prices and the purpose for which borrowed money were put into use.