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Tea factory directors kick off campaigns ahead of polls

Rift Valley
 KTDA vice chairman Wesley Koech. He is defending his Techchoget zone directorship seat in the elections. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) campaigns for smallholder tea factory directors elections have kicked off.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) started receiving nomination papers from candidates on Thursday.

Speaking at Kapkatet Tea Factory in Bureti constituency after receiving his nomination certificate from IEBC, KTDA vice chairman Wesley Koech expressed confidence that he would retain the seat on account of his track record.

Dr Koech is defending his Techchoget zone directorship seat in the elections.

"For the last three years, as the Kenya Tea Development Agency vice chairman, we have notably increased the monthly payment for a kilogram of green leaf from Sh18 to Sh23," he said.

On tea bonus, he noted that KTDA has increased the amount paid for a kilogram of tea from Sh9 to Sh32.

"The agency also pays promptly unlike in the past when farmers would get their pay on the 25th of every month. Payment is made on the 5th of every month," he said.

Koech and local tea farmers were optimistic that the 'one farmer, one vote' election method, conducted through the IEBC will allow smallholder tea farmers to elect the directors they want in a free and fair democratic process.

“The previous voting system which was based on the number of shares a tea farmer held, favoured those with larger farms and more shares. The ‘one grower, one vote’ principle, gives each farmer an equal voting stake,” he said.

The IEBC is set to conduct the election of directors of the 54 KTDA factories on June 28.

Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) Chief Executive Officer Willy Mutai said IEBC will publish a list of qualified candidates, including the voter register, in all tea-buying centers ahead of the voting exercise.

“Eligible candidates are required to submit a Sh10,000 non-refundable fee, an ID card, and a grower's slip for the 12 months preceding the date of election,” he said.

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