LOW BONUSES

Vihiga's Mudete factory risks closure if farmers uproot tea

Agriculture executive Pamela Kimwele yesterday said the factory risks incurring more operational costs and that could sound its death knell

In Summary

• The factory currently processes 15 million kilogrammes a year and this is very low and costly.

• Farmers have complained of poor bonus payments over the past seven years.

Agriculture executive Pamela Kimwele at Chango ground in Mbale, Vihiga
Agriculture executive Pamela Kimwele at Chango ground in Mbale, Vihiga
Image: MARTIN OMBIMA

MARTIN OMBIMA @OmbimaPatrick

The Vihiga government has pleaded with tea farmers not to uproot their bushes, warning that that could cripple Mudete factory.

Agriculture executive Pamela Kimwele yesterday said the factory risks incurring more operational costs and that could sound its death knell. The factory currently processes 15 million kilogrammes a year and this is very low and costly.

Farmers have complained of poor bonus payments over the past seven years and some plan to grow other crops. Kimwele said a kilogramme of tea earned Sh26 in 2013 but has since been on a downward spiral. 

"Farmers were expecting pay raise, but the price has been going down from 2014. Now they are paid Sh11 per kilogramme," she said in her office.

"Handpicked tea is of high quality. It’s properly selected by farmers compared to that of the machines that goes with all chaff."

A team of experts has been sent to establish why bonuses have been decreasing.

Tea delivery has always been on time, but middlemen are accused of frustrating farmers. Kimwele said the team will find out whether tea loses its value at the factory or at the kiosk.  She urged those seeking to uproot their bushes to put their plans on hold as the county intervenes.

(Edited by F'Orieny)