The Ministry of Agriculture has called on tea factories to work on the reduction of production costs in order to maximise farmers’ earnings.
Speaking during a tour of Kiegoi and Muchimukuru Tea Factories in Igembe South and Tigania East respectively in Meru County, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the majority of the factories were incurring huge costs in the production of a kilogram of tea, hence eating into the farmers’ earnings.
“The Ministry of Agriculture is working day and night to ensure we implement the tea reforms that will change the tea sector for the better.
These changes will not be of many benefits to individual farmers if their factories will not reduce the cost of production as much as possible,” said Mr. Munya.
Among the changes the ministry has done in the tea sector, Mr. Munya added, was the revitalisation of the Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) that will look into the issues of tea farming with an aim of ensuring farmers get fruits of their labour.
He added that the ministry has also revitalised the Tea Research department which was earlier swallowed by Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Authority (KALRO).
“We want the department to have a budget that will ensure they work separately with an aim of coming up with solutions that will be of much benefit to our farmers all over the country,” said Munya.
The CS added that the government has already announced measures it is putting in place to save tea farmers from burdensome taxes.
He said some of these include plans to begin hauling tea to Mombasa using the standard gauge railway which were at advanced stages.
He also ordered for the scraping off of health insurance scheme deductions, which farmers had been lamenting about.
Munya said he had received a flurry of complaints that farmers were not benefiting from the scheme.
He further assured farmers of increased bonuses saying that the tea reforms were meant to wrest control of the sector from the grip of cartels that were eating off the sweat of struggling farmers.
By Dickson Mwiti