Mt Kenya tea companies to reappoint managers

Worker sorting tea leaves at Chinga Tea Factory in Othaya, Nyeri, on December 7, 2022. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) has extended the deadline it had set to enable tea factories in the Mount Kenya region to recruit management agents.

The board wrote to the 39 tea factories in the east of the bloc informing their chairpersons that the recruitment of the management agents has been extended from May 2, 2023, to May 16.

Two weeks ago, 35 small holders’ tea factories in the west of the Rift bloc concluded the process and picked KTDA as their managing agent.

Last week, the chairman of Mt Kenya Tea Caucus Prof Joseph Karanja said they have requested the regulator to allocate them more time for the purpose of looking for the best agent. “This will be a competitive process as all the firms licenced by the  TBK will be around to express their interest to the various boards,” said Karanja, also chairman at Ngere Tea Factory in Gatanga, Murang’a.

TBK acting chief executive Peris Mududa in a circular dated April 28, copied to KTDA bosses David Ichoho (chairman) and Julius Onguso (managing director) says the extension of the period follows requests from the stakeholders.

“It is the desire of TBK that the process of negotiation is reviewed to enable the recruitment period to end soon,” said the CEO. She has however warned the parties of the need to undertake the exercise objectively without undue pressure or interference.

In Murang’a, the directors, led by Chege Kirundi from Kiru tea factory, drafted a management agency agreement that proposed a reduction of the fee from 2.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent. The contract will be for five years, from the previous eight years, with the management agent paying the staff to be seconded to the factories.

Kirundi, also the KTDA board member representing Kiru, Gatunguru, Kanyenya ini and Githambo tea factories, said the growers are interested in more returns from the sector, thus the boards should pick the most qualified agent.

“Murang’a County factories prepared a draft management contract presenting the interest of the growers in reducing the cost of production,” said Kirundi.

TBK has licenced KTDA, Tropical, Eastern Produce Kenya and Williamson Tea as the managing agents after they demonstrated the capacity to manage the sector.

In the reschedule released by KTDA, they will on May 2, hold a session with directors in Embu. On May 3, the Agency will be in Meru, then head to Kirinyaga on May 4.

KTDA will be in Kiambu on May 9, before proceeding to Gatanga, Kigumo and Kandara on May 10. They will conclude their meeting in Mathioya and Kangema, on May 11.