Published on: July 04, 2023 07:10 (EAT)
Tea growers’ representatives are now appealing to the Kenya Tea Board regulatory body to deregister or revoke the licenses of those companies that have been exploiting farmers by buying their crops at throw-away prices from the farms.
The representatives are apprehensive that farmers stand to lose their earnings from private companies and individuals who hawk the produce.
Speaking during the signing of a renewed contract between five tea factory companies from Nyeri County and the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) in Ruiru, Kiambu County, the farmers’ representatives divulged that the brokers were buying green tea leaf at Ksh.25 per kilogram which is way too low.
According to KTDA Board Chairman David Ichoho, the tea hawkers who have invaded mostly the Central Kenya region were violating the law which requires that they must have 250 acres of the crop to be licensed to establish tea factories.
“Our concern is that farmers are losing their hard-earned cash to these tea hawkers and brokers. They are giving away their green tea for Ksh.25 per kilogram which should earn them Ksh.150 when we pay the bonus,” said Ichoho.
He also warned that KTDA may discontinue its services to registered farmers who have been selling their produce to illegal marketers.
“If you go out there and sell outside it means that you can be sanctioned, part of it will blacklist you from being our farmers,” he added.
At the same time, Ichoho said tea farmers are likely to be hit by the effects of the Finance Act which is likely to raise the cost of production, adding that his team is consulting with the government on ways of minimizing the effect.
Further, the Chairman said international factors like the civil strife in Pakistan and Sudan which are the main consumers of Kenyan tea, as well as scarcity and high cost of the dollar are posing a huge challenge in marketing.