FARMERS' PLIGHT

Uhuru orders for KTDA restructuring to save tea farmers

Says conflict of interest inside KTDA has contributed to tea farmers' problems.

In Summary

• President Uhuru Kenyata Uhuru said that farmers have been earning little from their produce as the middlemen and brokers pocket bigger share.

• He said that the diminishing earnings from the farmers have caught the attention of the government.

Tea pickers at Iria-ini Primary School in Othaya, Nyeri county.
Tea pickers at Iria-ini Primary School in Othaya, Nyeri county.
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the conflict of interest inside the Kenya Tea Development Agency has contributed to the problems facing tea farmers in the country.

Addressing the nation on Tuesday from the Mombasa State House, Uhuru said the organisation has played a big role in tea farmers for a long time.

The President said that KTDA  and the entire marketing structure of the tea sector need to be restructured in order to ensure that farmers get desired pay from the product.

He said that the diminishing earnings from the farmers have caught the attention of the government.

 
 

"There are some of the operational and governance challenges that have emerged in the last few years. Key among these are conflict of interest by directors and lack of clarity in the decoration of dividends by subsidiary companies," Uhuru said.

The President's remarks come after 2019 recorded low dividends to tea farmers which caused uproar across the country.

Uhuru added that farmers have been earning little from their products as the middlemen and brokers pocket bigger share.

The President said anyone who is not a registered tea grower will be allowed to sell the product.

"Farmers who would be earning about Sh91 per kilogram for their tea are currently earning about Sh41 with Sh50 per kilogram going to brokers and middlemen," Uhuru said.

As a solution to the tea farmers' woes, the President directed the Competition Authority at the National Treasury to take decisive action to end the mess in the tea sector.

He further directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the tea Regulations of 2019 incorporates appropriate mechanisms to ensure no one who is not a registered tea grower is allowed to sell it.

 
 

The Ministry of Agriculture has been also asked to immediately ensure that KTDA is paying farmers not less than 50 per cent of their deliveries.

In October 2019, KTDA dismissed claims that they are behind the lower second payments (popularly known as bonuses) to tea farmers for their produce in 2018/2019 as compared to the previous year.

The agency said that the ongoing speculations are a deliberate falsehood meant to cause disharmony, misunderstanding and confusion in the small-holder tea sub-sector.


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