Joy for tea farmers in Nyeri as factories declare higher bonus

A woman ferrying tea to a buying center in Mathira, Nyeri, January, 2023. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Reforms in the tea sector have made an impressive transformation resulting in the highest bonus payment in the last three years.

As farmers prepare to walk into the banks with a smile, as from October 14, for this year's second bonus, and September’s green leaf payment, the directors are focused on the next year's production and progress.

On Wednesday, the KTDA leadership is set to convene in Nairobi to declare the annual bonus payment after the culmination of calculation by the agent and the directors ended on September 22 at the Ogembo tea factory.

The journey to reform the sector was initiated by Kiru factory Chairman Chege Kirundi in 2017, after he engaged the former KTDA management while seeking autonomy of the factories, as he sacked the seconded company Secretary.

In the bonus payment, Nyeri’s Gitugi tea factory will pay Sh57.30 per kg, up from the previous of Sh41.20 as hundreds of farmers blame the prolonged drought and hawking of green leaf as the hindrance to better bonus this year.

Zone two director at the KTDA board, Mr James Githinji, said the management of the factories has been under the directors to the demand of the farmers.

“The sector is striving to grow, and directors are in full control based on penetrating into the speciality teas, among other opportunities,” said Githinji.

Kirundi, who chairs the board at Kiru tea factory, said the impressive payment follows the directors being in firm control of the sector.

He said in the past, the managers seconded to run the facilities and manipulated the sector.

“Today the farmers are informed and involved in the decisions made by the directors, hence the impressive returns,” said Kirundi.

Kiru last year had paid Sh30.20, and this year, we are paying an impressive Sh43.20.

The vice chairperson at Ikumbi tea factory, Gerald Ngumba, said the management of the factories had transformed the industry in the last two years.

“This year we are paying Sh44.50 per kilogramme, up from the last Sh36.50,” said Ngumba.

Former directors as they left office, paid Sh25.50, adds Ngumba, describing this year's payment as a major stride to the reforms agenda.

At Kiru Tea Factory, farmers will receive Sh43.10 per kg while Gatunguru, Kanyenya-ini and Githambo Sh39, Sh37.50 and Sh41.

Other factories in Murang’a that paid better are Ngere Sh 46, Makomboki Sh 47, Njunu Sh44, Gacharage Sh 45, Nduti Sh 46 and Ikumbi Sh 44.50.

In the Mt Kenya region, factories paid higher bonuses at Kambaa 41.50, Kagwe Sh44, Theta 42, Gachage Sh40, Mataara Sh41, Chinga Sh41, Gathuthi Sh44, Imenti 52.10.

An agricultural Insurance expert, Michael Waigwa, said climate change remains the biggest threat to agricultural production.

He outlined that data on the five-year production of the green leaf reflects production fell below the average to between 20 and 60 per cent.

“In February and March this year, tea production fell by 24 million kilogrammes compared to the same period last year. This has been attributable to drought, extreme heat, and frost, among other weather perils,” said Waigwa.