•The agency is sponsoring the training of farmers and supporting them on other ventures.
•“Even though our main business is tea, diversification of livelihoods will help farmers get extra incomes. As KTDA, we are keen to improve the livelihoods of small scale farmers,” said Sudi Matara , the KTDA Foundation head.
The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) wants small scale farmers to diversify in order to boost their incomes.
The agency is sponsoring the training of farmers and supporting them on other ventures like dairy farming, beekeeping, mushroom farming, poultry farming, the establishment of tea, tree and fruit nurseries.
KTDA Foundation chief executive officer Sudi Matara said farmers have also been trained on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and social dynamics.
“Even though our main business is tea, diversification of livelihoods will help farmers get extra incomes. As KTDA, we are keen to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers,” said Sudi.
Sudi spoke on Friday at Suguta village during a farmer’s field day, the graduation of 200 farmers, and the launch of a holistic empowerment program targeting 500 farmers affiliated to Nyamache and Itumbe tea factories
The field day was held at Enoch Maronga’s farm.
“This program aims at improving the farmers’ productivity, financial literacy and ultimately their livelihoods,” said Sudi.
Kisii County Agriculture minister Esman Onsarigo, KTDA board members James Ombasa (Kisii region) and Eric Chepkwony (Bomet region) and Nyamache Tea factory chairman Abel Kenyoru asked farmers to improve the quality of tea in order to attract good pay.
They said with the new management and reforms, earnings for farmers will increase.
“Quality tea will fetch farmers good returns for farmers. The tea reforms which were initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta have also started bearing fruits,” said Chepkwony.
Ombasa said: “We have not reached where we want to go as aboard. I want to assure farmers that their earnings will improve. However, the farmers should work on quality and reject brokers from private factories.”
They also spoke against the tea hawking menace and advised farmers against selling their tea to brokers from private factories in the region at a throw-away price.
“Tea hawking is illegal. KTDA has invested in the farmers while the private factories do not do anything for growers,” said Onsarigo.
He added: “I want to thank KTDA for this initiative which also involves women and youth. This will supplement our efforts as a county in empowering the women and youth,” said the minister.
He said the tea reforms have started bearing fruits and asked farmers to take care of their crops saying they will enjoy higher returns in future.
“Farmers had despaired due to low returns but there is light at the end of the tunnel,” added the minister.
Kenyoru asked farmers to embrace new clones of tea which are high yielding and drought resistant.