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Nandi Tea Workers want plucking machines regulated

Tea farmers in Nandi County have called upon the Government to regulate use of Tea plucking machines in the region.

They noted that the introduction of tea mechanization has rendered thousands of workers jobless.

“Due to lack of employment, some of us are unable to take care of our families. We are appealing to the Government to look into the matter and provide a tangible solution,” said Jacob Kurgat, a farmer in the county talking to KNA in Kapsabet town.

Use of tea plucking machines was introduced gradually by multinational companies in the region since 2013.

The vibrant economy in tea growing zones has significantly dwindled in Nandi Hills, Tinderet and some parts of Aldai Constituency, where local residents rely on tea farming as a livelihood

According to farmers, using machines has compromised the quality of Kenyan tea and hurt its prices on the world market.

“We are not saying that mechanization of tea sector is bad, but we want it controlled so that everyone can benefit. We are suffering,” said one of tea pickers, Edna Cheruiyot

Nandi County has various multinational Tea firms including Nandi Tea Estate, Kibwaru Tea Factory, Kipchabo Tea Factory, Mbogo Valley Tea Factory, Chemomi Tea Factory among others.

According to Agriculture experts, high cost of tea production in Kenya and high wage bills, forced companies to adopt new technology to cut operational cost.

Wilson Tuwei, the Chairman for Siret Cooperative Society, noted that despite the Government intervention to restore tea sector, the tea production has been too costly and unsustainable for farmers.

He said small scale tea farmers cannot provide effective labour to accommodate workers who lost job opportunities in multinational companies.

By Linet Wafula

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