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Efforts by leaders to end Kipchabo tea estate row thwarted

Efforts by leaders in Nandi County to end the tea prices row hit a snag after farmers refused to heed calls for dialogue.
The leaders led by Governor Stephen Sang on Monday met the farmers who supply their produce to Kipchabo Tea Factory in Chesumei Sub County to arbitrate the dispute.
Sang urged the farmers to give room for dialogue over the matter but was met with hostile jeers from adamant farmers who demanded that the factory stays closed till the management accepts to pay Sh30 per kilogram for their produce.
“Allow the Managing Director to hold a consultative forum with the stakeholders so that they may arrive at a price favourable to both the producer and processor,” Sang urged.
Efforts by Nandi Woman representative Tecla Tum, and former counterpart Zipporah Kering and area MCA Pius Singoei to prevail on the farmers to yield to dialogue fell, similarly fell on deaf ears.
Late week over 500 farmers staged a demo lamenting that the management of Kipchabo Tea Factory had reduced the tea prices from Sh30 to Sh19 per kilogram.
In protest, they dug trenches on the main road leading to the factory to bar lorries from delivering tea. They went further and torched a lorry ferrying tea.
The farmers demanded that the manager Joel Maina and Nyayo Tea Zones Corporation Managing Director Peter Korir be relieved of their positions.
“Operations at the factory will not resume until the government overhauls the management which has subjected farmers to suffering due to meagre earnings for their produce,” said Timon Mutai, a representative of the farmers.
According to Korir (MD), the tea prices have nose-dived due to the fluctuating prices and surplus of the commodity in the market. He implored the farmers to accept an increase of Sh1.50 per kilogram but the farmers objected.
Meanwhile Korir faulted the farmers for destroying the factory property, theft of processed tea thus derailing the gains that had been made in the tea industry.
The County has approximately 23,000 small scale tea farmers and about 3,000 of them supply their tea to Kipchabo.
Apart from poor pricing, the farmers also face other challenges including poor road network and hawking of tea.
By Bethsheba Abuya

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