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Tea farmers push for lifestyle audits

By Joseph Muchiri | Published Mon, July 9th 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 8th 2018 at 20:27 GMT +3
Tea farmers follow proceedings when Senate Agricultural committee led by chairman Njeru Ndwiga visited farmers in Kianjokoma market, Embu County.

Tea farmers want the directors heading various Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories to undergo regular lifestyle audits to safeguard farmer’s resources from looting.

They also want the directors to have a minimum of a diploma to bridge the education gap with that of factory managers and production workers for ease of decision making.

Farmers further want the Government to waive some of the taxes and levies charged in the tea value chain in a bid to lower factories’ operating expenses and increase farmers’ returns from produce.

Speaking with the Senate Agricultural Committee led by chairman Njeru Ndwiga at Kianjokoma market on Friday, farmers pressed for an increase in monthly payouts to at least Sh30 and bonuses to at least Sh100 to enable them to lead decent lives.

Lifestyle audit

They further want the money paid by August and not kept until November, so hey can avoid taking commercial bank loans.

John Njiru, a farmer, said some of those elected as directors grew rich overnight, raising  questions on how they got the wealth while farmers struggled.

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“In the spirit of lifestyle audits, as ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta, we want audits to establish how the directors acquire their wealth. Those found to have looted farmers’ money should be forced to resign, the money recovered and given back to farmers,” he said.

The farmers want a law passed where directors serve a maximum of three terms and those who have already been in directorship for three terms no to be eligible to vie again. Farmers also want the tea directors remuneration made public for transparency purposes, since they are elected into office just like MPs.

Tea directors said they were not afraid to be vetted.

The Senate committee will use the views collected to come up with laws to improve the tea sub-sector.


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