Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr. Mwangi Kiunjuri has promised to hold a consultative meeting with tea farmers and other relevant stakeholders to help bring positive changes into the sector.
Kiunjuri said he has received numerous complaints from tea farmers prompted by low prices and delays in release of bonuses.
Speaking in Kangema, Murang’a over the weekend the CS said he will fully involve the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) which manages tea sector towards reviewing prices upwards.
Currently, farmers are paid Sh15 per kilo of green leaf supplied to KTDA managed factories something which has occasioned hawking of tea in some counties.
The farmers have been demanding for an increase of the price arguing the amount they earn cannot meet their expenses subjecting them to accrued bank loans.
“I will spearhead a meeting with farmers and KTDA so we arrive at a better price which will benefit our farmers,” added Kiunjuri.
He expressed his concerns on delays in releasing farmers’ bonuses exposing them to exploitation by commercial banks.
The CS accused KTDA of withholding farmers’ bonuses saying after selling of the tea the agency deposits money in interest earning accounts leaving farmers suffering.
“After transactions are made, money which is supposed to be released to growers is deposited in earning interests accounts. I have scheduled for a meeting with KTDA, in an effort to get a solution.
“There is no reason to delay bonuses payment for a period of one year, I believe the bonus should be paid at quarterly basis so as to help farmers,” he added.
The government, the CS said may opt to license private tea players who meet the laid down requirement to export Kenyan tea as part of reducing cartels and bring in competitive prices.
He spoke in response to Murang’a County Woman Representative Ms Sabina Chege who instigated for radical changes in the tea sectors to salvage the growers who have been pushing for review of their monthly payment to above Sh. 25 per kilo of green leaf.
Ms Chege said monthly payment should be increased from Sh15 to Sh35 to match with rising costs of living.
She said a parliamentary caucus group has been meeting to deliberate on how best to address the growers’ needs.
By Bernard Munyao