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Farmers in row with Kenya Tea Development Agency for selling tea to private factory

CENTRAL
By Boniface Gikandi | May 6th 2016

A row is simmering between Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and a Kiambu-based privately owned tea factory.

KTDA is against the factory, Ngorongo Tea Factory, buying green tea directly from farmers.

About 125 farmers from Kanyenyaini Tea Factory, who are members of the newly registered Kangema Tea Farmers, have been delivering their green leaves to Ngorongo, a move that KTDA termed as tea hawking.

KTDA also accused Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority of laxity in curbing the trend, which it said would negatively affect the quality of tea.

Kanyenyaini Tea Factory is under KTDA's management.

However, The Standard learnt that farmers delivering their produce to Ngorongo are paid Sh23 per kilo, while KTDA normally pays them Sh14 for the same.

A source further said Ngorongo allows farmers to deliver four leaves against the KTDA's rule of three.

But an official with Kangema Tea Farmers said they have allowed agents from Ngorongo to collect green tea leaves from farmers, noting they fetch Sh23 for every kilo delivered.

Francis Gateru said they have membership from the wider Kangema constituency, with agents from Ngorongo Tea Factory.
"We have 125 farmers from various parts of Kangema registered with Ngorongo as their suppliers in accordance with the law and we are warning KTDA against describing our business as tea hawking," he said, noting Ngorongo is a registered tea processing factory based in Kiambu.

He said the factory is allowed to do business in any part of the country, where farmers are their members.
"The farmers decided to explore the new market to avoid wasting time waiting for green tea collection trucks, which arrive late at night. In the new set up, the farmers go back home as early as 1pm after having delivered their produce," said Gateru.

Gateru said the farmers' group contracted the new market on September last year and tea farmers interested in selling their produce to the new factory were at liberty to do so, noting the population of registered members was gradually rising.

KTDA buys the produce at Sh14 per kilo with an annual bonus.
"There are reasons that drove the members of Kangema Tea Farmers to sell their produce through the new outlet, while we are waiting to receive our bonus by September," said Gateru.

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