Small scale famers in the tea sector in Kenya have a reason to smile as the government outsmarts cartels and makes it possible for them to receive 50% of their earnings within a fortnight of the sale.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya said the government has incorporated the reforms in the sector in the Tea Bill that once passed by Parliament would shield them from being challenged in court by the adamant Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
“We have incorporated the regulations aimed at streamlining the tea sector into the Tea Bill since KTDA is using the judicial process to deter us from saving the small scale farmers from the cartels and soon they will be operational,” said the CS.
Munya who was speaking during a consultative meeting with Tharaka Nithi tea farmers at Kajiuduthi grounds Sunday said individual tea factories would be sending their produce to the auction in Mombasa to cut on money lost to cartels and hasten the payment process.
He said this would enable the farmers to receive half of the earnings within two weeks while they awaited the remaining balance less expenses to be paid as the bonus at the end of the year.
Munya further revealed that serious audit queries have arisen over the manner in which KTDA and its subsidiary companies have been operating without involving the small scale tea farmers from whom the behemoth was founded and whose funds are used to fund the subsidiaries operations.
He also disclosed that millions of shillings from tea exports have been mischievously deposited into banks that later collapsed instead of being paid to the farmers.
“Some of these earnings are kept by the KTDA and are issued as loans to the tea farmers through the Green Fedha subsidiary whose profits are not reflected in either the annual bonuses or even the share dividends by the individual tea factories.
Speaking during the event, an MP in the East African Legislature Assembly Mpuru Aburi described KTDA as a neo colonization agency that has been exploiting the small scale tea farmers rather than helping them get better pay for their sweat.
“This is the time that the exploitation of small scale tea farmers by black colonizers in the name of KTDA is coming to an end. The flag of farmers in the tea sector is about to rise and this juggernaut and its cartels will no longer take advantage of other people’s sweat,” said EALA legislator.
By Kenneth Marangu/David Mutwiri