Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria has said he will sue Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) for meager tea bonus it is paying farmers this year.
Wa Iria has noted that there is no good reason to why KTDA has opted to reduce tea bonus at a rate of more than 30 percent.
He explained that by moving to county, the tea agency will be compelled to compensate farmers at least for the costs they incurred in maintain the cash crop.
On Wednesday, Wa Iria speaking in his office observed that cartels who have taken control in the tea sector are to blame for poor payment to the farmers.
KTDA, he said has allowed many middlemen in the sector leading to frustrations to farmers therefore the agency should be sued for taking farmers’ efforts for granted.
“Tea is being sold everywhere and we have not witnessed reduced prices for tea in the market. The question is where the returns from the cash crop are!” he posed.
He said the government should come up with a policy to provide minimum guaranteed price for cash crops.
The governor said performance of most cash crops in the country is going down due to mismanagement and poor payments to the farmers.
“If there are guaranteed minimum payments for cash crops, farmers will be protected from exploitation by cartels,” he noted.
The governor indicated that he will mobilize farmers to reject constitutional amendments that fail to protect their interests.
“I went through Punguza Mizigo Initiative draft, and realized it had no clause addressing farmers concerns despite being the majority in the country,” said the governor.
Wa Iria added the farmers will have their forum that will enable them draft their friendly amendment.
He added that in Murang’a 80 percent of the population are farmers who have shown their opposition to the constitutional changes that do not reflect their interests.
This year, KTDA has announced reduction of bonus rates by about 40 percent from last year’s pay.
The reduced tea bonus is said to be occasioned by political instability in Pakistan and South Sudan, two main buyers of Kenyan tea.
Stakeholders have been pushing KTDA to employ other strategies of marketing of Kenyan tea which they say is of best quality.
By Bernard Munyao