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Kirinyaga farmers boycott tea picking over threats

By Kamau Munene | September 7th 2016
Farmers affiliated to the troubled Thumaita Tea Factory have boycotted tea picking citing threatening leaflets. PHOTO: COURTESY

Farmers affiliated to the troubled Thumaita Tea Factory have boycotted tea picking citing threatening leaflets.

The farmers yesterday stayed indoors after they found leaflets warning them of dire consequences should they start picking the green leaf.

The leaflets authored in Kikuyu reads in part: "Onyo. Akuria a Thumaita tea factory gutiri gutua cai, andu aitu mari thiini na aici mari oi itiini.(Warning! Thumaita tea farmers, no picking of tea when our people are still in police custody while those who have looted our resources are in office).

The situation got worse when the farmers blocked employees of the neighbouring Nyayo tea zone from picking tea.

The farmers went to the farm to confront the workers who on sensing danger fled. The farmers destroyed the green tea the workers had already picked.

The irate farmers vowed to repulse any employee who would defy their orders and threatened to burn down the lorries used to transport the commodity.

The workers intended to have the green tea they were picking transported to the nearby Kimunye factory for processing since Thumaita has remained closed since August 28.

On Saturday, Anglican Church of Kenya Kirinyaga Diocesan Bishop Joseph Kibucwa addressed the striking farmers at Kamugunda market, appealing to them to see reason and end the hostility.

"Baba Askofu, please don't waste your time since we have made up our mind that unless the money we have been robbed is included in our pay slips, we are not going to listen to anyone. Please pass this message to others," said Marion Wanjiru, a farmer.

The farmers told the bishop that unless the contentious Sh5 bonus payment shortfall is reflected in their pay slips, they would not budge.

The go-slow has adversely affected the sector, with farmers losing Sh2.5 million daily.

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