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We have done well under reforms, says KTDA chairman

NEWS
By Boniface Gikandi | September 29th 2021
CS Peter Munya chats with KTDA Chairman David Ichoho. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) Chairman David Ichoho says the new board has made substantial progress under government-powered reforms in the tea sector.

Ichoho said the price of Kenyan tea at the Mombasa Tea Auction had markedly increased from $1.90 (Sh209) per kilogramme on July 24 to $2.66 (Sh292) in September after the introduction of a reserve price by the government.

KTDA factories are currently in the process of announcing second payment rates for its 600,000 farmers across the country, which Ichoho says are expected to be the same or slightly lower than last year. 

Under the reforms, regular significant monthly payments were a major demand by farmers.

The chairman said the board has explored multiple new cost-saving opportunities thus increased returns to the farmers at farm level.

He cited a low of eight per cent interest rate on loans offered by the company’s subsidiary - Greenland Fedha - as a major plus for farmers who had agitated for low-interest credit.

Further, the Sh1 billon fertiliser subsidy that the government has offered tea farmers translating to Sh600 saving on every 50kg bag and use of standard gauge railway to ship the cargo has saved farmers logistical costs.

“When the new board took office in July 2021 after a long drawn agitation for change, a lot was expected from us. While there is more to be done, we have introduced transformative changes within months towards achieving what tea farmers have been yearning for years,” said Ichoho.

Forensic audit

He added that a forensic audit of the corporation accounts will continue to catch and prosecute anyone who may have pilfered farmers’ proceeds.

“It is our conviction that a sustained and deliberate approach to the welfare of our farmers will deliver economic freedom and a more prosperous tea-growing community. This is just the beginning,” said Ichoho.

Stop exploitation by cartels

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has separately said the government has done a lot to safeguard the interest of the tea growers to stop exploitation by cartels in the sector.

“The farmers are fully in charge in the sector and reaping returns,” said Munya adding that the government has helped in the import of low-cost fertiliser.

But former Murang’a director Francis Macharia said the prices at the auction was not a true reflection of the situation.

He said farmers are currently producing less due to the pruning cycle and extended cold season which has slowed regeneration.

“In a short time as when there will be more tea the price will shoot down,” said Macharia who represents Murang’a growers in the board.   

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