• Board member says KTDA's operations are open and it was not necessary for the county government to go to court
• Global tea production stands at 5.8 billion kilogrammes against a demand of 5.6 billion kilogrammes
The Kenya Tea Development Agency is ready for an independent audit as ordered by the High Court in Murang’a on Monday.
The agency’s representatives in Murang’a said on Tuesday there was nothing to hide and that they scrutinise annual audits as required by the law before presenting them to the farmers.
Justice Kanyi Kimondo on Monday ordered the Auditor General to audit the agency in connection with the bonus to be paid to Murang’a farmers.
The Murang’a county government had gone to court seeking to establish the cause of Sh2.6 billion drop in bonus the ones issued out last year.
KTDA Zone 3 board member Francis Macharia said the county's 10 factories earned Sh12.3 billion from tea sales in the year ended June 2019.
Macharia said most tea exporters have increased their production even as importers went through political and economic turmoils.
He said the global tea production stands at 5.8 billion kilogrammes against a demand of 5.6 billion kilogrammes.
“During the year, Murang’a factories processed 181 million kilogrammes of green leaf into 43.85 million kilogrammes of processed tea which was sold at an average of US $2.59 per kg compared to US $3.14 realised last year,” he said.
Farmers are to be paid Sh8.6 billion. Already, they have been paid Sh2.7 billion on a monthly basis while the rest will be paid as the annual bonus.
Pakistan, Egypt, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Sudan are the main destinations for the Kenyan tea. All these countries have experienced either economic or political turmoil.
Macharia said KTDA's operations are open and it was not necessary for the county government to go to court.
He asked political leaders not to politicise the sector and take time to understand the dynamics that drive it. “We are elected leaders and urge farmers not to be misled by those purporting to be representing them as they are not working for their interests.”
The tea sector supports more than 400,000 people in the county and it was, as such, an easy target for politicians, Macharia said.
He said the factories are addressing the challenges facing the industry. They include the high cost of production. Some factories have established a Sh2.2 billion hydropower project to provide affordable power.
“To cushion farmers from fluctuating prices, factories are diversifying into the manufacture of orthodox tea which has a wide market to remove reliance on black CTC tea."
KTDA Zone 2 board member Erastus Gakuya said the sector has a bright future despite the current challenges.
Ngere tea factory chairman Johnson Kang'ethe said it was unfortunate that Governor Mwangi wa Iria had chosen the court route to "revive his political strength".
“Murang’a people know him. He is a comedian. His administration should focus on the roles it has been given through devolution,” Kang'ethe said.
He noted that 26 per cent of the country’s foreign currency is derived from the tea sector and 60 per cent of it is facilitated by KTDA.