Tea farmers in Embu County are mulling over turning to other cash crops after receiving poor bonus payout this year.
This comes after tea farmers received poor tea bonus payout for instance Rukuriri tea factory announced a payout of Sh39 down from Sh49 last year.
On the other hand, Mungania Tea Factory farmers will get Sh37 this year down from Sh.50 last year, while Kathangariri Tea Factory announced bonus payout of Sh.35 down from 45 last year’s.
Farmers have said the money is little considering that they had borrowed loans at higher rates which was in relation to last year’s higher bonus.
The Director at the Kenya Fisheries Service, Ms. Jessica Gakinya said farmers can have better alternatives to crop farming.
“Some farming requires small piece of land and earn better income that tea farming which requires huge tracts of land to fetch better income,” Ms. Gakinya.
On fish farming, the director noted that farmers need to be sensitized on proper fish farming methods.
“With proper methods this can give high yields to help meet the demand locally. The fish market in Kenya is huge and that is the reason we are seeing imports from China and other countries,” she said.
The director advised farmers to venture into value addition which will help them to earn more from the already existing crops.
“Tea factories should also avoid tea brokers and go to the markets directly,” said Gakinya.
Gakinya said that modern day tea farmers are still in the sector because tea is a traditional crop in the region and lack essential information on alternative crops.
She challenged local leaders to educate farmers on alternative crops to tea for better returns.
“Diversification is a must in this day and time and with the changing weather patterns, we need to try and farm other crops that can do well in our area, the reason people have stuck to tea farming is because our parents and grandparents did so, therefore we lack information on what else we can grow,” Gakinya said.
By Kimani Tirus