Small scale tea farmers will receive a better pay once the government initiated tea reforms in the sector are fully implemented.
The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Peter Munya, said after the initial resistance by the former tea cartels in June this year, the prices of tea at the Mombasa Auction, have increased steadily, to a record of US$3.38 per kilogramme in the latest sale.
“After the government set a reserve price of US$2.43 per kilo, the cartels at the Auction declined to purchase the tea ,bringing the price down to US$ 1.68 in the month of July, but after stamping our feet down, they gave in hence a steady increase, to US$3.38 in the latest auction,” said the CS.
Munya who was speaking during a visit to oversee the progress on tea reforms at Weru Tea Factory in Tharaka Nithi,, said with the continued increase in the prices of tea at the auction and the concerted efforts to reduce the cost of production, transportation and storage of processed tea, the farmers should expect much better pay by the end of 2021/22 Financial Year.
“You should not be misled by politicians and the beneficiaries of the former cartels, who are insinuating that the prices of tea have gone down with the election of the new KTDA and factory directors, because what is being paid as bonus this year, is a product of the ousted team,” emphasized the CS.
He said the government had to chip-in by providing a fund to pay the farmers, when the cartels went on a go slow to resist the set reserve price and bring tea prices down, but once they realized that there was no turning back, they succumbed to the pressure and the tea market is now in full throttle.
Munya said the government realized that the declining tea prices, was as a result of the direct sales, where cartels were the beneficiaries and closed direct sale of green leaf tea, that constitutes 95 percent of the tea exported from Kenya and this has achieved a 42 percent average increase in price, from July to date.
He called on farmers from Weru Tea Factory, to pass resolutions that distance themselves from an ongoing court case that is consuming much of their funds, to enable the former directors withdraw the case and allow the reforms, to be fully implemented.
Present during the visit was the Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner, Ms Beverly Opwora, who undertook to continue spearheading the land adjudication process, to give farmers a better environment to increase tea production
Representing the Tharaka Nithi County Government was the County Executive Committee (CEC) Member for Agriculture, Njue Njagi, who hailed the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, for giving Peter Munya, the agriculture docket, where he has initiated reforms in many sectors including the coffee, tea and milk production in the country.
Through its Chairman, Gitari Mwoga, the Weru Tea Factory Board of Directors, highlighted the progress that it has made in implementing the tea reforms, for the small scale tea farmers within their jurisdiction and undertook to work even harder for the benefit of the farmers.
By David Mutwiri