Tea reforms pay off as famers get better bonus payout

Bernard Mutai plucking tea at a farm in Kericho County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Kenya Tea Development Agency factories in Meru have improved their bonus payout to farmers in what is attributed to reforms in the sector

The tea factories in Imenti, Tigania and Igembe have paid better prices to their members in the latest payment.

After sweat and tears toiling on their farms, the farmers have got better pay compared to previous years. In 2021, then Agriculture CS Peter Munya cracked the whip that led to change in management at tea factories.

Imenti tea factory has emerged best in terms of bonus payments, with Sh52.1, with Chairman Solomon Murithi attributing it to good management. Stephen Kobia, Chairman at Michimikuru factory in Tigania East was a happy man after they paid a bonus of Sh47.60, the second best in Zone 7 after Imenti factory.

Githongo factory paid Sh45.50 and Kiegoi Sh46. Mr Kobia noted the improved performance in bonus payment, an improved performance from Sh31.10 the factory paid in bonus in the current management’s first year in office.

Kobia, like tea directors at Imenti, Githongo, Michimikuru, Igembe and Kiegoi, resisted attempts by previous directors to recapture the factories following the end of Munya’s tenure.

A little over two years ago, Michimikuru paid Sh16 in monthly pay, but that has increased to Sh21. “It is an improvement since we took over the management of the factory. Part of our efforts was repaying Sh250 million loan we inherited which we have reduced to Sh102 million,” said Kobia.

The management invested in Sh39 million machinery to process its tea and was now processing 28,000 kilo, up from 9,000 previously.

To get better prices for farmers Kobia said they had engaged buyers to identify their preferences. “We have maintained consistency in the quality of our tea for two years now and buyers are responding well,” he said.