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Stakeholders want cost of operations in tea sector reduced

A section of stakeholders has proposed an increase of exploitation of machinery in the tea sector so as to reduce cost of operations.

During a meeting held in Murang’a town, farmers among other stakeholders in the tea sector noted that cost of operations has been too high leaving farmers to get meager earnings.

In the forum that was organized by the Tea Prices Stabilization Taskforce, those present argued that machines can be utilized instead of using human labour, especially in picking tea.

High cost in picking of tea, the farmers said, has occasioned poor earnings thus forcing small scale tea farmers to abandon the cash crop.

Chairman of the taskforce, Mr Irungu Nyakera, observed that 58 per cent of the total expenses in the sector is consumed through human labour.

He noted that the taskforce is engaging relevant stakeholders to explore ways in getting better prices of tea as well as ensuring farmers earn maximally from their produce.

“One of major issues the farmers have raised is high expenses in the sector which has occasioned dwindling of earnings. The use of machines in picking tea has been proposed to cut the cost as a big per centage of earnings goes to pay for human labour,” noted Nyakera.

The taskforce, Nyakera added, is also working out to streamline the tea value chain to ensure prices of the processed tea is improved.

He observed that in the tea auctioning process, appropriate changes need to be done so as to ensure Kenyan tea fetches better prices.

“The way auction is being done in Mombasa needs to be checked and appropriate changes be implemented so as to get buyers who will offer best prices for our tea,” he added.

The former Planning Principal Secretary, further said, they are working out to promote tea consumption in the country, saying a big percentage of the tea produced in the country is exported.

“Kenyans need to embrace our tea. Value addition and branding of the best quality of Kenyan tea will also attract more consumers as we increase returns. Our aim is to see tea farmers are no longer exploited and they benefit fully from their produce,” remarked Nyakera.

Meanwhile, the newly elected factory directors who attended the meeting, said they are in office legally accusing former directors who are trying to stop them from accessing offices.

Mwangi Mbote, one of the new directors from Makomboki Tea Factory, stated they recently concluded elections for factory directors following the legal procedure and thus they will continue to dispatch duties without fear.

“The recent elections for directors followed the laws which govern the tea sector. We did not use the new reforms which were instituted by the government. Let those who have been serving as directors leave the offices as farmers want changes,” he added.

Implementation of tea reforms 2020 have faced hurdles after KTDA moved to court, terming sections of proposed tea regulations illegal.

By Bernard Munyao

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