Local tea farmers are staring at reduced returns due to wrangles between two factories and their parent companies.
Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Regional Manager Godana Guyo said tea from Rorok and Toror factories was performing poorly at the auction due to the wrangles.
He said the fighting was likely to affect the second payment to farmers at the end of the year and urged local leaders to intervene.
Activities at Toror Fea Factory have stalled as farmers fight for independence from the parent company, Tegat. Rorok is facing a similar challenge as farmers seek independence from Kapset Tea Factory. Members and officials of the two factories have vowed not to reopen them until they are granted their independence.
But one of the impediments is that the members of the parent companies own shares in the satellite factories and funded their establishment.
This means they (satellites) must buy out the parent firms. However, members of the satellite factories are reportedly not keen to pay back what was used to establish their firms.
“The politics of separation pitting KTDA against farmers from Toror in Kericho and Rorok in Bomet have affected the market. We need to solve the matter quickly,” Mr Godana told a Bomet County Assembly committee yesterday.
“Reports that farmers had shut down operations at the two factories have forced tea buyers to look for alternatives. If this stalemate is not sorted quickly, it means it will be very hard to find more buyers soon, which will mean poor returns for farmers.”
But the committee, chaired by Embomos MCA Robert Serbai, accused KTDA of ignoring the plight of small-scale farmers.
“Farmers want the separation because of poor prices per kilogramme of tea,” said Mr Serbai.