Stop hawking of tea in Kisii, says Obure
PUBLIC Works minister Chris Obure has asked the Kenya Tea Development Agency and Tea Board of Kenya to reign on hawking of green leaves in Kisii and Nyamira counties. Obure said brokers from multinational tea companies were reaping from ignorant small-scale tea growers in the region who sell them their leaves at throw away prices. “There is need for KTDA and the tea board to reign on hawking of green tea to save the farmers from exploitation,”said Obure. ''The practice remains a major challenge because the farmers have resorted to hawking the crop at a loss thus increasing poverty levels.''
Speaking in Kisii town yesterday, Obure said agents from the multinational companies in Kericho and Sotik are exploiting the farmers and there is need for urgent measures to curb the practice. “The multinational tea companies are exploiting the small-scale tea growers who sell them their crop at throw away prices. Something should be done to curb the practice,” said Obure.
The minister took to task KTDA region six manager Willis Odhiambo to explain what he was doing to end the practice which has seen farmers live hand to mouth. Obure noted that brokers benefit a lot because they earn higher returns and annual bonus because they only pay the growers once unlike KTDA which pay at the end the years.
Responding to minister concerns, Odhiambo agreed that hawking of green tea was indeed a challenge in the region but are doing all they can to sensitise farmers on importance of selling their crop to KTDA. “Rampant hawking of tea in the region, is increasing poverty among small scale tea growers and threatening the survival of tea factories,” Odhiambo.
He said that Sang’anyi in Nyamira North is the worst affected where by its crushing capacity has since decreased. “We have been holding frequent meetings with the farmers to discourage them from hawking their crop to brokers” the manager said. He said that the tea agency was working closely with the Tea Board of Kenya to find a lasting solution to the hawking menace in the region. The Manager at the same time said that issue of falsification of kilos has since been addressed with the introduction of electronic weighing machines where the farmers’ kilos are immediately reflected at the factory upon weighing.
He added that KTDA has been paying farmers well and asked discouraged from selling their crop to multinational tea companies. Obure said that the government was expanding infrastructure to enable farmers deliver their produce to factories in time to avoid damages. “As a measure to reducing loses, the government is opening up many roads to make it easy for farmers to deliver their crop to their respective factories,” he said.