The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) will commence a scheme of paying full annual NHIF cover for its members which will then be deducted from the end of year bonus.
KTDA Zone Six Board Member Enos Njeru said piloting of the scheme is set to commence in some selected factories around the country later this month.
Through the program, Njeru, said KTDA will essentially be liable as contributor to the fund in respect of its members who will then be able to enjoy health services throughout the year.
Speaking during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Mungania Tea Factory in Embu Thursday, the KTDA Board member said the move was geared towards cushioning farmers, majority of whom end up defaulting on their monthly contributions due to the myriad of financial hardships impeding them from accessing timely and quality health-care whenever they fall sick.
He noted that many farmers are hit by diseases such as respiratory and arthritis due to harsh climatic condition associated with tea growing zones, hence such a cover would come in handy for them.
Njeru said the scheme that will see the agency pay Sh6, 000 to NHIF for each farmer for a full year cover, aimed at protecting them against these surging chronic illnesses and ensure they remain healthy and productive in their farms.
“We have had numerous cases of fundraisers being held to help patients foot bills that could have otherwise been taken care of by the NHIF cover,” he said, while calling on farmers to embrace the program.
At the same time, the Board Member announced that farmers will receive mini bonus in early January as opposed to March as had been the norm to enable them take their children back to school.
He said the bonus will be paid alongside the monthly pay of December and urged farmers to make good use of the money to improve their livelihoods.
On the other hand, the farmers unanimously passed a resolution to extend the term of office of the current directors until 2024, saying they had been satisfied with their performance.
“For the short duration they have been in leadership, we have seen much improvement in how our factories are run with a lot of transparency and our earnings have also tremendously improved,” said Teresa Muthoni one of the farmers.
The farmers asked the former directors some of who were present in the AGM including former Board Member Samuel Mwafrika not to interfere with the factory affairs, saying their time to serve lapsed last year when they were ousted.
“We are asking the former directors who lodged a petition in court following their removal from office claiming they are the bona fide factory managers to keep off and allow the new team to work undisturbed, ” said another farmer Harrison Kathuri.
They asked the ex-directors to withdraw the court case and stop “misuse of famers’ money on unnecessary litigation.” Each KTDA factory is said to have spent Sh3 million in the suit so far.
Factory Chairman Mwenje Njeru said they are committed in ensuring farmers draw maximum benefits from their sweat and that they were putting requisite measures in place to improve their earnings including doing value addition to the locally produced tea.
By Samuel Waititu