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Tea companies should stop withholding farmers’ dues

By Francis Wanyanga | May 12th 2017

Black tea is Kenya’s leading export and foreign exchange earner and, therefore, the importance of tea cultivation cannot be overemphasised.

The crop is cultivated by hundreds of thousands of small-scale holders on one hand and large-scale multi-nationals operating mainly in Kericho and Nandi counties and Limuru on the other. For small-scale farmers, tea farming would only be of consequence if it changed their lot economically.

Today, many in this group are swamped by micro-finance debts to the extent that they literally work for banks, and no one seems to be drawing up for them a road map out of this situation.

Best practice in business in general expects supplier credit not to exceed 90 days, especially when the raw materials have been utilised in production and the finished products sold. Processors should, therefore, drop this obsession with ‘bonus’ and pay suppliers within 90 days to stem rural poverty.

Otherwise, respective county governments should take the cue and legislate this requirement to save their constituents from economic ruin.

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