Some 480 tea farmers from Nyamache Sub County, Kisii County have received a grant of Shs.1.5 million from the KTDA Foundation in partnership with Unilever company to scale up business in the area.
The farmers drawn from 16 groups within Nyamache tea factory have active income-generating activities and have undergone trainings on social dynamics, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship.
Speaking during the launch of the fund, Head of KTDA Foundation Sudi Matara said they are engaging the tea farmers using the value addition chain approach where they support them from the production to the market levels.
Mr. Matara noted that 90 percent of the tea farmers own 0.5 acres meaning the income they get is not sufficient to cater for their social and economic needs hence the need to empower them.
The head of KTDA Foundation pointed out that the grant will not only empower the tea farmers economically, but also provide them with a stepping stone to take their businesses to the next level as opposed to solely relying on tea farming alone.
This grant, he noted, is part of the holistic social and women economic Empowerment Program aimed at improving the economic welfare of at least one million small scale tea farmers, families, and tea pickers.
KTDA foundation board chairman, Mr. Michael Ngatia said they will continue providing technical support to the groups and diversify the projects within the tea factories as part of the sustainability plan for the businesses in the area.
Additionally, the initiative is expected to encourage other tea farmers to start looking into other business ventures in addition to tea farming and uplift one another.
So far, KTDA Foundation has invested about Sh50 million in different empowerment projects within the country by training over 200,000 farmers on financial literacy and engaging over 30,000 farmers in holistic economic empowerment programs that have seen about 100 groups develop business plans.
On his part, Nyamache tea factory chairman, Dr. Abel Kenyoru lauded the KTDA Foundation for diversifying the income of tea farmers adding that they have been adequately trained on financial and conflict management issues.
Dr. Kenyoru said they will continue working with the Foundation to empower more tea farmers since most of them have very small farms and the income they generate from the sales of tea is very low.
“As Kenyan tea growers, we depend on the international market that is very volatile. Currently, some of our major buyers of tea are facing a financial crisis and farmers will receive low bonuses at the end of this year, hence the need to diversify into other business activities to supplement the income from the tea,” he noted.
By Mercy Osongo