Tea farmers in western Kenya call for State stimulus package – Business Daily
A woman plucks tea on a farm in Kiptagich, Kuresoi South in Nakuru County along the Olenguruone- Bomet road in this photo taken on Monday, May 03, 2021. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NMG
Tea farmers in Vihiga and Kakamega counties are asking for a stimulus package introduced in the region to serve as a top-up on the regular bonus payouts they receive from the KTDA-run Mudete tea factory.
Through their co-operative, growers want the county governments of the two devolved units to set up the fund that they believe would help address falling production of the beverage, which has been blamed on rising input costs.
Mudete Tea Factory Chairman, Mr Abung’ana Khasiani, said the injection will also shield farmers from the rising cost of living.
Mudete is currently operating below its annual processing capacity of 20 million kilogrammes every year, having processed 18 million kilogrammes of green leaf in the 2020/2021 season and 11 million kilogrammes in 2021/2022 season.
This decline, Mr Khasiani said, was a result of some farmers uprooting their tea due to low earnings, while others have opted to stop supplying the produce to the Mudete and instead shifted to multinationals in the neighbouring Nandi county.
“We are asking for a stimulus package because it will reinvigorate our production and protect this factory from losing famers to multinationals. Bonus payout in the tea sector has been dwindling over the years,” said Mr Khasiani.
The official added that the proposals will help safeguard the region’s economy by protecting the local factory, which on top of allowing farmers a say in their tea affairs, also provides jobs for residents.
When he toured the factory mid-last year, Agriculture CS Mr Peter Munya assured farmers that bonus payment would improve citing the ongoing sector reforms.
He said changes include setting minimum reserve price at the Mombasa auction so as to tame perennial reduction of market prices, cutting down on KTDA operational costs from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent and slashing earnings of tea brokers from 1.25 percent to 0.75 percent.