• Nine farmer groups comprising 212 growers received the grants that aim to help them start other economically viable projects that help them generate income.
• KTDA, in partnership with Ekaterra, launched the grants programme that is targeting one million smallholder farmers, families and tea pickers at Theta tea factory.
Tea farmers in Gatundu South have received Sh855,000 grants from the Kenya Tea Development Agency Foundation so they can diversify their farming for increased earnings.
KTDA, in partnership with Ekaterra, launched the grants programme that is targeting one million smallholder farmers, families and tea pickers at Theta tea factory.
Nine farmer groups comprising 212 growers received the grants that aim to help them start other economically viable projects that help them generate income.
Head of KTDA Foundation Sudi Matara said the programme aims to assist tea farmers diversify their income avenues and end over-reliance on tea earnings.
He said besides extending the grants to farmers, they have partnered with other stakeholders to impart entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy knowledge on farmers.
Some of the income generating activities the farmers will be embarking on include poultry farming, trading manure, tissue culture banana growing, dairy feed production as well as raising tea and vegetable tree nurseries.
“The farmers will be encouraged to provide a quarterly report to track their progress and provide intervention where it’s needed. With this initiative, the foundation expects to encourage other tea farmers to start venturing into other businesses in addition to tea farming and uplift one another,” Matara said.
KTDA chairman David Ichoho said the programme will help reduce poverty among tea farmers as they will be empowered to generate income from other ventures.
“We are encouraging farmers to adopt and uphold this holistic diversification so that they can stop relying only on income from tea to sustain their livelihoods. We are empowering them with the requisite knowledge and skills and supporting them with seed capital and this will improve their livelihoods,” the chairman said.
Ichoho said most smallholder farmers have been languishing in abject poverty due to dwindling income as a result of low tea production, especially due to the prolonged drought season experienced in most parts of the country.
In February, tea production reduced by 40 per cent in the country. Tea production in February last year stood at 99 million kilos while this year it reduced to 67 million kilos.
Ichoho assured tea farmers of improved returns, saying the government has brokered a deal with the Pakistani government for Kenyan tea to enter the Pakistani market as an essential commodity. This comes amid a dollar shortage in the two countries.
Ichoho said the meeting between Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi and Pakistani officials three weeks ago will also see surplus tea at the Mombasa Auction purchased in entirety by the end of this month.
Pakistan is one of the top buyers of Kenyan tea, purchasing about 191 million kilos of tea annually.
“We are working round the clock to unlock more tea markets in Africa, Europe and Asia which will see tea prices in the country rise significantly,” Ichoho said.
Farmer Mary Waithera of Gikung'a Self Help Group said the grants will go a long way in enabling them to sustain their families since they will have more income avenues.
Her group received Sh100,000 and they will be rearing indigenous chicken in Mundoro village.