A section of legislators from Murang’a County want senior directors of KTDA replaced for what they termed as failure to support the welfare of tea farmers.
Four MPs accused top officials of KTDA of failing to come up with strategies that would see tea farmers benefit more from their produce.
They decried reduced rates on payment of bonus this year, saying majority of farmers would be left struggling to service loans they accrued to increase tea production.
The MPs, Peter Kimari (Mathioya), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Mary Waithera (Maragua) said reducing of bonus payment by more than 30 percent is a big blow to farmers who totally depended on tea for their livelihoods.
This year, KTDA announced reduced rates on tea bonus payment citing conflicts in Pakistan and Sudan which were major buyers of Kenyan tea, occasioning reduced export of the produce.
Kimari noted that majority of Mathioya residents depended on tea and reduction of bonus would prompt suffering to farmers.
He said senior officials of KTDA needed to be replaced with people who would come up with ways to diversify market and products of tea that would bring more returns to farmers.
“The country cannot keep on exporting black tea. There is need to change the way of doing things. Let KTDA come up with ways to do value addition to our tea so as to fetch more returns,” said Kimaria during a church fund raising event at Kiru area of his constituency.
Production of specialized tea products, he said, would ensure farmers got more income than what they were currently getting through selling of black tea.
On her part, the Kandara MP said middlemen involved in marketing chain of tea should be removed so that farmers could directly sell their produce to buyers.
Wahome noted that brokers among other middlemen involved in marketing of tea should be done away with and asked KTDA to think on ways of supporting farmers.
“The loss incurred should be shared by all players involved in tea sector but not to be left to farmers only. Let KTDA, brokers among other players also bear the burden of poor market of tea,” she added.
Nyoro asked the government to come up with minimum guaranteed price on Kenyan tea, saying the move would save farmers from huge losses.
He said tea and coffee sector could be boosted by ensuring the price of the produce does not go a certain amount.
“Without guaranteed minimum price of tea, many farmers will be forced to abandon the cash crop and the country’s economy will be affected as tea is among top foreign earner in Kenya,” noted Kiharu legislator.
Waithera on her part said tea bonus should be paid on a quarterly basis but not to wait until the end of year to pay farmers.
“This year farmers will not be able to settle their loans as the bonus rate was reduced. That’s will occasion a lot of suffering to our farmers. KTDA should come with measures to compensate farmers adequately,” added Waithera.
By Bernard Munyao