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Tea glut spoils party for farmers in Kisii

By Stanley Ongwae | May 26th 2015

Tea farmers in Nyamira and Kisii counties are losing out as a glut, transport hitches and processing constraints dampen good prospects for the crop, especially after a four-month dry spell.

The most affected are small-scale tea growers who depend on factories to provide transport for their produce to processing zones.

All the six factories in the region are reportedly straining to contain the glut, which some managers admit has doubled since the start of the long rains last month.

Currently, most of the factories have resolved to buy the crop three days a week as a measure of coping with the pressure on processing machines.

In most tea buying centres, farmers have been forced to wait for factory vehicles for up to three days before selling their tea leaves. Kebirigo Tea Factory Manager Pauline Oyugi said increased crop harvest has constrained the factory, which is processing more than 100,000 kilos of tea daily, almost double its processing capacity.

“The factory usually process up to 54,000 kilos of green leaves, but for the last two weeks, it has been receiving up to 110,000 kilos, which is far above its processing capacity,” said Oyugi. “By May 18, 2015, we had received up to a million kilos and we expect that if the weather continues this way, then it will be even worse because our facilities will be overstretched,” said Ms Oyugi.

 Transportation challenges

Area leaders say poor roads and inadequate transport for delivering tea leaves to factories remain a key challenge facing farmers.

However, some factory managers insist the vehicles transporting tea leaves to factories are sufficient.

A Member of Nyamira County Assembly, Benson Sironga, said the county government has resolved the transportation challenges through rehabilitation of all affected roads that were impassable during the rainy season.

Some of the factories facing similar challenges include Nyansiongo, Nyamache, Tendere, Rianyamwamu, Sang’anyi, Kiamokama, Nyankoba and Gianchore.

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