Police in Bureti Sub-county cancelled a farmers’ meeting at the eleventh hour citing security concerns.
The tea farmers affiliated to Litein tea factory company Ltd had sought a permit to hold a meeting to deliberate on the low second payment from the Litein police station but it was cancelled Wednesday night citing security reasons.
The move by police to withdraw the meeting permit did not go down well with tea farmers who accused police of stopping a would-be a peaceful farmers’ meeting on flimsy grounds.
Police said the meeting would not go on as planned due to security reasons and asked the conveners led by a prominent tea farmer Edwin Kimetto to tell farmers to stay away from the meeting that would have been held at the factory ground.
The farmers had wanted to deliberate on the low second payment popularly known as bonus and the way forward.
“This would have been a peaceful meeting. The farmers wanted to deliberate on the payment. We wanted to simply air our grievances and go home,” said Kimetto.
The farmers were to stage a protest saying they do not accept to be paid Sh 14 per kilo for the tea they delivered to the factory from their last year’s tea produce from Sh28 last year.
The tea farmers questioned why bonuses from West of Rift valley have remained low for years yet payments for factories in the Central East of Rift were extraordinarily high.
Tea farmers who spoke to the media as they were dispersing threatened to deliver tea produce to privately run factories who were offering better prices rather than those run by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
They also threatened to stop tea picking until the pay issue was addressed.
Speaker after speaker accused factory directors of keeping silent over the issue and threatened to vote them out in the next polls for failing to champion their interests.
By Dominic Cheres