All 10 tea factories in Murang’a are now ready to sign management agreements with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
This comes after directors of the factories concluded negotiations with KTDA and agreed on the issues they had raised about the proposed reforms in the new management agreement.
The management agreement signing had been delayed for almost seven months to give time for negotiations about the new reforms.
The Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) ordered negotiations after the tea factories rejected some of the reforms indicated in the management agreement.
Directors of the tea factories demanded to be in charge of the finances, as the KTDA was left to control the staff and processing of green leaf.
Mt Kenya region TBK Director Charles Kirigwi said directors from the county will soon enter into the memorandum of understanding with KTDA after they complete the negotiations.
“Only factories in Murang’a are yet to sign management agreements with KTDA. All the 19 tea factories west of Rift signed the agreement in April this year. Now that the negotiations have been concluded, directors representing tea factories in Murang’a are set to sign the MoU,” said Kirgwi during the AGM at Kiru Factory in Mathioya.
He lauded the chairman of Kiru factory Chege Kirundi who advocated for tea reforms and demanded negotiations that would see farmers and the factories get better deals from KTDA.
Meanwhile, Kirigwi observed that TBK is considering measures to address the proliferation of the hawking of green leaf, which is rapidly becoming prevalent in tea-growing zones across the country.
Hawking of green leaf, he said, should be stopped since it is subjecting tea factories to operate below the required capacity.
Among the proposed measures, TBK has mandated the installation of trackers on all vehicles transporting green leaf. These trackers will be connected to both the regulatory body and the police.
Kirigwi stated that this initiative aims to streamline the tea industry and combat the activities of rogue merchants involved in the hawking of green leaf.
The TBK director further noted the regulator is pursuing three firms believed to be behind the hawking of green leaf saying every factory before being licensed should indicate many affiliated farmers and the amount of green leaf they will supply.
Kirigwi added “Tea hawking is a nationwide menace with roots in the West and East of Rift. Many factories have reported reduced production for processing.”
He further explained, “The installation of car trackers in the tea sector will help apprehend crews invading the tea catchment areas of other players. We have players from Kiambu and Meru who have disrupted the tea sector.”
The board also mandates tea factories to submit a list of farmers to the regulator and conduct regular inspections of weighing scales at tea buying centers. This effort aims to prevent corrupt clerks from stealing from the growers.
By Bernard Munyao