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Murang’a KTDA factories roll out plan for reliable energy

Tea factories allied to Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and which lies under Zone 2 catchment area in Murang’a County, plan to lower cost of production by embracing use of electricity instead of firewood.

The zone 2 board member James Githinji said the six factories are negotiating on strategies to reduce production cost through utilization of cheap electricity.

Speaking during the annual general meeting at Ngere tea factory, Githinji said the cost of production has gone up due to use of firewood.

He said shifting from use of firewood will help the factories reduce the cost of production thus increase earnings to farmers.

The factories, he observed, are planning to get power from Mitumi Hydro-electric power station which was established by other tea factories which are in Zone 3.

Githinji explained that the tea factories under zone 2 which include Ngere, Nujunu, Makomboki, Gacharage, Nduti  and Ikumbi  will be connected to the power line by June next year in a cost reduction  strategy.

“Initially we had plans to build a dam and start generating hydroelectric power for our six factories but the project  was declared unsustainable after the Northern Water Collector Tunnel (NWCT) abstracted water from rivers Maragua and Irati upstream,” observed Githinji.

Githinji who is also chairman of Ngere Tea factory further said they have had  discussions with board members of Zone 3 on plan to get excess power  from Metumi power station instead of selling  to Kenya Power Company (KPC).

“We are negotiating to be part of the Metumi Power project that supplies power to Kiru Githambo, Gatunguru and Kanyenya ini; tea factories which are in zone 3.” said Githinji.

Metumi Power station, which is established at the junction of rivers Mathioya and Gura started to generate power in 2020. They have been selling the excess power to Kenya power.

During the meeting, the farmers allowed the management of the Ngere tea factory chaired by Prof Joseph Karanja to dispose of the 100 acres of land in Kaibaga area in Kiambu, which the former management acquired for the purpose of growing trees for firewood.

“Since the land has not been in use we have been mandated by the farmers to dispose it off and invest in more productive ventures of interest,” said the factory chairman.

Karanja added that in a year in office they managed to sell tea valued at Sh. 2.4 billion out of which the farmers received payment of Sh. 1.5 billion.

“Despite the many challenges in the tea sector that we inherited from the former management we have steered the sector to profitability with farmers getting their payment every fifth of the month,” said Karanja as he told off the former directors inciting the farmers.

Ngere tea factory in the last financial year made a turnover of Sh. 2.4 billion, recording an increment of Sh. 500 million from previous year.

Out of the income, 70 per cent was directly paid to farmers, 23 per cent  catered for production cost and the remaining 9 per cent was utilized for other factory needs which include paying taxes and salaries of employees.

By Bernard Munyao

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