Kenya to ferry tea to Mombasa via SGR
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has announced plans to have tea from the Mt.Kenya region transported from Nairobi to Mombasa by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
The move is aimed to reduce the cost of tea transportation to the auction market.
Speaking during a tour at Ndima Tea Factory in Kirinyaga County, Munya said, due to the railway network incompatibility, the commodity from the region will continue to be transported to Nairobi by road from where the tea would be loaded into the SGR and taken to the Mombasa auction.
“This will still be a cheaper option when compared to the old arrangement, where the commodity has been transported from the respective factories by road to Mombasa,” Munya said.
He promised farmers a payment of bonus as had been the case before and also announced that the government had pumped in Ksh.1 billion to cushion the high cost of fertilizers, which stands at Ksh.3,200 per 50 kg bag to Ksh.2,500.
The CS defended the current KTDA Board from claims that it was responsible for the low bonus payment and reminded the critics the new officials only took office only a while ago amid the ongoing reforms in the sector.
“We are trying our best to kick out all the cartels which had infiltrated the tea sector in all forms, especially transport from upcountry to the auction in Mombasa.”
Early this year, Munya said the government will not allow cartels and unscrupulous players in the tea sector to derail implementation of new regulations while in March President Kenyatta directed Munya to oversee a probe into the giant agency, in directives contained in Executive Order 2 of 2021.
The President also directed Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to conduct an inquiry into the alleged statutory and regulatory compliance breaches allegedly committed by KTDA and its directors.
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However, the agency officials moved to court to challenge the proposals by the President.
Munya further revealed that the new KTDA officials will start making appearances at the agency Headquarters sooner after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) takes to court the former Board members said to have looted from the farmer’s proceeds.
He faulted the ousted KTDA Board of having been on a looting mission, following several farmers’ lamentations over declined tea bonuses below Ksh.188 in the last five consecutive years, leaving the farmers completely impoverished.
“But after embarking on a cleanup mission and putting on stringent measures within the last few months, we are now headed to 3.33 dollars per kilogram of processed tea towards the end of this month and this is scheduled to continue improving for the better.”
He said forensic audits would also stream from the KTDA Headquarters to all the 64 factories and where those found to have been culpable, will be arrested and prosecuted.