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Tea Board of Kenya raises concerns over increased theft of tea

The Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) has called for radical measures to curb the increased theft of green leaf, which has left tea farmers counting losses.

TBK has identified Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, and Kirinyaga as counties where theft of green leaves has escalated in the recent past.

The board’s director Mr. Charles Kirigwi has noted theft of green leaf is perpetuated by hawking of tea, saying the trend is leaving farmers with huge losses.

Speaking in Murang’a Friday, Kirigwi observed that the majority of small-scale tea farmers in the mentioned counties are allied to KTDA management factories saying the theft is leaving the factories to operate below their production capacity.

The director accused some private tea factories implicated in the hawking of green leaf in Mount Kenya region, divulging that the private facilities are secretly increasing their tea production lines to accommodate the excess produce acquired through theft.

“its unfortunate farmers are losing their produce through theft of green leaf at the farms. This should be stopped since KTDA allied factories operate below the capacity,” said Kirigwi.

He added that the Tea board has instructions from the government to stop hawking of green leaf so as to protect farmers from exploitation.

“There is one private tea factory in Meru county, which is buying green leaf from as far as Kirinyaga county. The hawking can be blamed for increased theft of produce,” he added.

The Board, Kirigwi noted, has sanctioned inspection of the tea factories processing lines, in efforts to tame hawking of the green leaf and establish those collaborating with culprits behind the menace.

“Initial investigation has established that some of the private factories on the spot are buying the produce away from their areas of operation after they falsified their applications for licenses on the contracted farmers,” noted the director.

He continued, “TBK plans to have vehicles involved in tea transportation labeled and also factories with extra unlicensed processing lines will be destabilized.”

Chairman of Ikumbi tea factory, Gerald Ngumba on behalf of tea factory directors in the region appealed to the Ministry of the Interior and National Coordination to arrest the culprits behind the hawking of the teas.

The chairman reiterated that it was disturbing that farmers were losing their produce due to the increased hawking activities.

“Tea hawking is a security threat that should be tamed to save the industry from collapsing,” said Ngumba.

By Bernard Munyao

 

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