President Kenyatta promises improved tea bonuses for Mt. Kenya farmers
Tea farmers in Kenya will start getting improved bonuses by next year once the new tea reforms are fully implemented.
This follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s affirmation when he toured Central Kenya region with a bag of promises including to even better coffee bonus more than what the government has tried in the current year.
He spoke when he met a section of Kirinyaga leaders, including the area Governor, Anne Waiguru.
According to the President, the year 2022 will be a year of benefits for the commodity farmers just like how the government has put in efforts to better pricing for coffee.
“Natarajia kwamba mwaka ujao wakulima wetu wa majani chai watakuwa wanasherehekea bei amboyo hawajahi kuiona kutoka wakati tulianza majani chai katika taifa letu,” said President Kenyatta.
(I am hopeful that beginning next year, our tea farmers will be celebrating better tea pricing that had never been seen since Kenya started farming tea)
The President’s remarks coincide with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya’s who on October 13 this year said there had been some slight improvement in tea bonuses this year after the implementation of some of the reforms.
He cited the recent monthly tea pay per kilogram which increased by Ksh.5 from Ksh.16 last year to Ksh.21 this year.
Bonus pay, however, reduced by an average of Ksh.2 per kilo this year in almost all the tea factories compared to last year causing uproar among tea farmers.
“We know there was an issue with bonuses which is being addressed. However, we have to admit that there has been some slight improvement in the monthly tea pay. However, the full impact on pay will be felt by next year once we have fully implemented the reforms,” he said.
Munya said they are in the process of streamlining Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) by making it leaner in size and more effective to manage so as to cut operation costs.
He said the rot at KTDA was deeply rooted and its cleaning needs time.
This year, top KTDA directors were ousted as part of the reforms, with the government calling for their audit to establish their involvement in the rot in the tea sector.
“Most of them have since gone to court and filed several cases. Until then is when we can begin implementation of the reforms. We hope the cases will be determined in a months’ time to give us time to begin the implementation of the reforms, ” said Munya.
The government also said that 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 Standard Gauge Railway (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,” said Munya.
The government has already 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.
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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 following a directive for CS Munya to oversee a probe into the giant agency, in directives contained in Executive Order 2 of 2021.
This was after the President directed the Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to conduct an inquiry into the workings of the giant KTDA and the activities of directors.
At that time, the President had also ordered elections of directors of the various factories to be conducted within the next 60 days and ordered the Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiang’i and Munya to ensure the “full implementation” of the Executive Order.
The directive, contained in Executive Order No. 3 of 2021, and which was signed on March 12.
This, the President said, include “potential price and auction manipulation, abuse of dominance, insider trading, wastefulness and breach of directors’ fiduciary duties.”