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Joy for tea farmers as factories approve early bonus payments

Margret Wanjugu plucking tea at her farm in Tetu, Nyeri, March 2022. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Small-scale tea farmers in Mt Kenya have a reason to smile after directors of factories approved improved bonus payments for July to December green leaf deliveries.

Various factories directors from Meru have also announced an increase in the mini bonus for the July to December green leaf deliveries.

Factories in Nyeri, Embu and Murang’a have increased the monthly pay from Sh21 to Sh25 for the green leaf deliveries. In Meru, only Weru factory will increase the monthly pay.

Farmers affiliated to seven tea factories in Murang’a will enjoy an early bonus payment in January.

The growers from Zone 2, who are allied to Makomboki, Njunu, Ngere, Ikumbi, Gacharage and Nduti tea factories, will get a mini bonus payment calculated at the rate of Sh4 per kilogramme of the green leaf delivered between July and October.

Farmers affiliated to Githambo tea factory in Kiharu will also enjoy the new year bonus after their directors resolved to join the six from Murang’a South region in the deal.

KTDA Zone 2 board member James Githinji and Makomboki Tea Factory vice chairman Mwangi Mbote said the bonus payment will be paid in January, alongside the for December. 

Githinji said the resolution to pay the bonus was arrived at during a meeting of the directors of the six factories in Kigumo, Gatanga and Kandara, on December 14.

The directors said the bonus model will help the farmers access substantial amounts to pay school fees, among other commitments.

“The boards considered the struggles farmers go through when schools reopen, including taking expensive loans from banks and shylocks, to pay school fees,” said Githinji.

Mbote said the second bonus will be paid in April, covering November, December, January and February.

“This is designed to help the farmers pay the second term school fees and attend to other commitments, without much struggle,” said Mbote.

Ikumbi Tea Factory vice chairman Gerald Ngumba said the directors discussed the best way to give farmers financial freedom and access to the main tea bonus at the end of the year.

“We have been working towards improving the living standards of the farmers. That is why we opted to have an early bonus payout,” said Ngumba.

In Murang’a, Kiru, Gatunguru, and Kanyenya-ini factories resolved to pay Sh26 per kilogram of green leaf starting December 1.

Zone 3 board member Chege Kirundi, who is also the chairman of Kiru Tea Factory, said the increment will include the December payment, which will be in early January.

Kirundi said the increment is meant to cushion the growers against the cost of living. “As we implement reforms in the sector, we note that farmers are entitled to get their payment soon after the sale.”

The other factories in Meru will increase the mini bonus of July to December green leaf from Sh5 to Sh10.

“The mini bonus will be paid in the first week of May 2024,” Kinoro factory’s Titus Kirimi said.

Mr Kirimi said they are paying farmers improved bonus following reforms, spearheaded by former Agriculture CS Peter Munya.

Munya’s worked to change factory managements in a bid to get rid of poor leaderships that had disillusioned tea farmers.

At Imenti tea factory, chairman Solomon Murithi said they will pay a bonus by March next year. “There will be no monthly increment but bonus (increment) by Sh5,” said Mr Murithi.

Kionyo tea factory vice chairman Gwaragwara Nkosi said they will pay the mini bonus of Sh10 per kg in May.

 

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