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Tea farmers on go-slow, want better bonuses

10 September 2014, 23:01 Dareel Eric

Vihiga - Tea farmers have initiated a go slow to demand for better remuneration and bonuses from Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), whom they allege is overlooking their welfare.

Small scale tea farmers union in the region (KUSTO) called on its members to stop picking and supplying their tea leaves to Mudete Tea factory in the region, last week.

The union said that it will only allow its members to resume supplying the raw material after KTDA implements their demands fully.

The union’s secretary general Mr George Kinyua said that they want KTDA to pay all the farmers a mini bonus of Sh 5 per kilogram delivered and a further Sh 50 per kilogram during the end year major bonus.

“We want Mudete tea factory to employ three loaders per tea buying centre, on top of the other demands,” part of a notice supplied to farmers asking them not to supply their tea, read. 

Mudete tea factory is currently being served by 140 tea buying units in Vihiga and Kakamega counties, where tea farming is practised majorly on small scale farming.

The notice also called on the tea agency to implement the farmers’ petition made in mid April this year.

Earlier in the year, Vihiga County government initiated a programme to sell over 500 000 tea seedlings to farmers at a subsidised price in order to increase its acreage with a view of increasing the company’s output.

Governor Moses Akaranga asked the tea factory to strengthen its marketing strategy by selling its tea directly without involving KTDA.

“Avoid selling through KTDA, which is just an agency. Instead, improve on your marketing strategy in order to enable farmers realise desired proceeds from their produce,” he said.

Mr Akaranga also challenged the factory to improve on the time of tea collection from collection points after numerous complaints of delayed collection from buying centres.

When contacted, the factory manager, Mr Erastus Oluoch, said he would not comment on the matter as he was away on leave.

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