By Brighton Makori ….
Kisii 3 October 2020……………Tea farmers in the country have been told that the reforms in the sector are meant to uplift them.
Addressing Tea Farmers during Consultative meetings in Kisii and Nyamira Counties on Friday Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya noted that the Tea Sector earns the country Ksh 120 Billion foreign exchange annually and that it could not afford to ignore it to go to the drain.
Cs Munya added that the reforms are results of helping farmers from brokers and cartels who have been benefiting greatly at the expense of the tea farmers who toil very hard year in year out after President Kenyatta got concerned over the same.
“ We have been able to do public participation about the reforms that are being carried out, we have received the support of all tea farmers who have given out their views on the changes they want to see in the whole sector” Said Munya adding that auditing of the Kenya Tea Development Agency pool fund was among a raft of other measures the State is investigating within the Agency to ensure that farmers do not lose their hard earned money.
Munya said State officials had busted a cartel of business brokers who were trading the tea in the foreign markets, bringing into question transparency in trading of the produce with the government insisting that all Tea should be sold at the Mombasa auction.
He said that his ministry as also launched efforts to ensure that reforms are carried out in the coffee sector to ensure that it is also streamlined to meet the current market demands and eliminate cartels that have been controlling it for many years.
In other hand Governor James Ongwae said that farmers in Kisii County were concerned about the low bonus prices where they earned Ksh 9 per kilo in an area that produced 22 million Kilogrammes of tea per year where they earned Ksh 5 billion instead of Ksh 7.5 billion.
Ongwae said that the region has the capacity of producing 27 million kilogrammes of tea per year and that the farmers from the region need to be motivated so that they can put more efforts in the crop which is considered as a cash crop in the Gusii region..
“On behalf of the people of Kisii County, I fully support the new tea reforms being brought by the National Government towards the revival of the tea sector that will in the end benefit our farmers who are now grappling with the low bonuses being paid by KTDA for their crop says Ongwae
‘Kisii farmers have from the ancient past depended on tea and coffee farming as their lone source of livelihood. Paying farmers Ksh. 8 per kilogram is thus a mockery and disrespectful of their dedication and time in growing the cash crop” he added
Wiper Party Deputy party leader Victor ogeto swanya on his side he has given opinion that farmers wealth should not be lost during the tea reforms and that their proposals can be inter grated by pointing technical team on behalf of farmers which will help to harmonies all farmers proposals with the new regulations to ensure equitable rewards to all farmers.
Swanya who hails from Kitutu Masaba in Nyamira county added that through that way the technical team working on behalf of the farmers will capture the investments farmers have put in the factories,stocks,insurances, tea warehouses in mombasa and later power generation companies to ensure maximum compensation to the farmers.