Expect better bonus earnings next year, Agriculture CS tells anxious tea farmers

A farmer plucks tea leaves at Tukiamwana in Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has announced a raft of measures that he says will lead to improved tea earnings by next year.

The measures, Munya said, include transporting tea through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) beginning next month, constructing a laboratory facility in Mombasa to promote a quality driven market and fast-tracking the completion of Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) to reduce tea storage costs.

He said transporting tea produce to Mombasa through SGR will cut costs, while the lab facility will ensure improved tea earnings for farmers.

“Transformation and change is not instant especially in a sector entrenched with leaders with vested interests. There is resistance but we are driving the transformation in a good way and the results are being felt,” Munya said.

In order not to affect the private transportation sector, the CS said they will be transporting tea at the first mile from the factory to Nairobi where the SGR will be taking over.

Speaking at Iriaini tea factory in Nyeri, Munya blamed the former Kenya Tea Development Agency for the low tea bonus payments of 2020-2021 financial year exuding confidence that the effects of the new management and reforms will be felt next year.

This year, more than 600,000 farmers affiliated to 69 factories under the KTDA will receive their bonuses on October 20 less than last year's, with a difference of over Sh5 for some factories but Munya said with the already set reserve price better tidings are on the way.

At the same time, Munya dispelled claims that the international market dictates the tea prices, saying while the tea prices in Kenya has gone down for five years, the same has not been the case with international prices.

“The prices in Mombasa auction are determined by buyers and not by the international markets. It is being done in an opaque manner and that is why the lab facility will scientifically test tea to have grading which will help the seller determine prices,” he said.

Munya also revealed that a forensic audit at the factory level will be conducted establish the average cost of production per a kilo of tea and to seek answers as to why there was variance in different factories.

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