• They hang out around trading centres to avoid choking smoke at home.
•Factory board says problem has weakened families and affected production of quality tea.
Some Embu men avoid going home in the evenings because they are disturbed by too much smoke from cooking on traditional fireplaces, officials of a tea factory say.
Mungania tea factory in Embu East has started providing farmers with smoke-free jikos to keep men at home.
Kenya Tea Development Authority officials Julius Nyagah and Samuel Muriithi said many men in Mungania tea growing area delay returning home after work.
They hang around trading centres to avoid choking smoke at home.
Mungania factory board said this problem has weakened families and affected production of quality tea in the area served by the factory.
Ireri said men are not available to discuss family matters and tea production suffers.
Mungania factory has partnered with Fair Trade company to supply farmers with smoke-free, energy-saving jikos called JikoKoa to enable men spend enough time with their families.
“When JikoKoa is in the home it means even those men who have been getting late while hanging around markets to avoid smoke from the traditional jiko will arrive early to stay with their families,” Ireri said.
The officials spoke at Mungania tea factory when the management and Fair Trade officials distributed 250 JikoKoa to farmers at an affordable price of Sh1,200 rather than the Sh3,000 market price.
Nyagah and ireri said the jikos will enable farmers save up to 70 per cent of the wood fuel. A recent survey shows the area consumes 16 tones of firewood daily.
They said a lot of wood fuel will be saved and farmers can sell the surplus to the factory for drying tea and earn money while conserving the environment which is polluted by smoke.
Nyagah said this year farmers will earn less from their tea owing to flooding in the area. He said there is a surplus of over 200 million kilos.
Last year, farmers were paid Sh65.10 per kilogram of green leaf including the bonus.
Nyagah said it will be difficult to pay farmers the Sh25 per kilo Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri proposed to KTDA owing to high production expenses.