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Tea farmers boycott over transfer to a nearby factory

By Boniface Gikandi | November 23rd 2020

More than 250 tea growers in Murang’a have boycotted plucking green leaf for almost a month demanding that their region be transferred from Githambo to Gacharage tea factory.

The growers boycotted plucking their green leaf from November 1, in their quest they be transferred to Gacharage tea factory located six kilometers from the village.

Led by Hiram Gicheru the growers from Ichichi catchment said their wish to shift factories is based on the closeness of the tea catchment to Gacharage tea factory in Kinyona ward, in Kigumo constituency.

Gicheru said the growers wanted clearance to join Gacharage factory and their shares transferred to the entity forthwith.

The closed tea buying centres serving the village are Nduu-ini A, and Nduu-ini B, Gikigie and Kiangenye.

They argued that the distance covered from Ichichi to Githambo factory in Kiharu constituency is almost 20 kilometres compared to six kilometres to Gacharage factory.

A visit to the tea farms revealed overgrown tea bushes and abandoned tea collection centres with overgrown vegetation around them.

Mr Gicheru said the farmers have complained about spending long hours at the buying centres, when waiting for green leaf collections trucks from Githambo. 

Gacharage and Githambo factories are managed by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA ) but are  located in zone two and zone three respectively.

“Our only interest is to be transferred to Gacharage factory which is within reach of better services pertaining to our tea. Despite being in Kangema constituency, Kangari is our nearest market and only a stone throw to Gacharage,” said Gicheru.

The farmers said if their demand was not affected they will proceed to court to seek justice.

Gacharage Tea Factory Chairman Mr Paul Kagema on his part said his board had no abjection on the wish of the growers from Kangema.

“The growers wrote seeking they be allowed to be members of the factory, but they are yet to be allowed by Githambo to change their delivery point,” said Kagema.

KTDA Zone three Board Member Francis Macharia said the farmers have no moral authority to change, as their green leaf is located by trucks from the buying centres.

“The issue surrounding tea-growing catchments are marked in accordance to zones. Ichichi is near Githambo despite being in Kangema administratively,” said Mr Macharia.

 The factory management claims the farmers obtained banks loans which are still pending.  

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