A section of elected leaders in Murang’a on Wednesday used Jamuhuri Day celebrations to demand for robust reforms in coffee and tea sectors.
The leaders speaking at Rurie grounds in Mathioya Sub County said farmers of the two cash crops have been suffering following poor management of the sector.
The county women Representative Sabina Chege, Senator Irungu Kang’ata and Mathioya MP Peter Kimari jointly vowed to push for reforms which will see farmers benefit from their cash crops.
Chege noted Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) had been paying meager prices for green leaf supplied to its factories Sh. 15 per kilo of green leaf. “This is very minimal to even cater for expenses a farmer incurs in managing the crop,” she noted adding she will push for review of the price saying a kilo of green leaf should not be less than Sh. 30.
“Our farmers have been suffering following poor payment of their cash crops and as leaders we will push for reforms in the sector to ensure farmers benefit from their crops,” added Chege.
She wondered why tea bonus were paid towards end of the year suggesting that the bonus should be paid on quarterly basis to help farmers meet their personal needs.
“At the time when bonuses are released, farmers already have accrued many debts and once they get the money they offset the debts leaving them with nothing. If tea is sold once it is processed, why keep farmers bonus for almost 12 months,” posed the Woman Rep.
Many coffee farmers in the county have abandoned the crop opting to grow other crops which fetch more returns.
Chege suggested formation of a cash crop ministry which will be mandated to ensure proper management of coffee and tea, as the crops contribute a lot to the country’s economy.
On his part Kang’ata said the way maize farmers and other crops are demanding for better prices for the produce, leaders in central region will agitate for increased prices for coffee and tea.
The two cash crops, Kang’ata said have been and continue to be the only source of income of many farmers in the region thus the need for better reforms to boost the sectors.
“The government should streamline farming and marketing of tea and coffee to enable farmers get better payments. The farmers also need to be provided with subsidized chemicals and fertilizers to boost farming,” added Kang’ata.
He observed he will push for formation of parliamentary caucus to look at challenges facing the two cash crops and give recommendations on how to improve the sectors.
During 2018’s tea bonuses, some factories paid reduced rates prompting farmers’ protests.
By Bernard Munyao