Tea farm­ers blame KTDA for low bonus

They claim mis­man­age­ment, cash mis­use

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties - ALICE WAITHERA @Alice­wangechi

Mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion and em­bez­zle­ment by tea fac­tory di­rec­tors have re­sulted in mea­gre pay­ments and de­creas­ing bonuses in Kangema, Murang’a county, farm­ers have said.

They blamed the Kenya Tea Devel­op­ment Agency for fall­ing prof­its, as the agency man­ages the tea fac­to­ries.

Kenya Union of Small Scale Tea Own­ers na­tional co­or­di­na­tor Raphael Muhanda said the pay­ment an­nounced by the Kanyenya-ini tea fac­tory of Sh36 per kilo is the least in Mt Kenya re­gion.

“We are hard­work­ing peo­ple and the fac­tory is not giv­ing us rea­sons why we re­ceive the low­est pay­ments in the re­gion,” he said.

Muhanda ac­cused the man­age­ment of mak­ing too many de­duc­tions from their pay to cater for ex­trav­a­gant life­styles at the ex­pense of farm­ers.

Kanyenya-ini Tea Fac­tory has been rocked by con­stant scuf­fles, with farm­ers ques­tion­ing its man­age­ment.

Mu­tun­guru tea buy­ing cen­tre, which has more than 100 farm­ers, broke away from the tea fac­tory last year and sells its tea to pri­vate fac­to­ries in Ki­ambu.

Mem­bers of the buy­ing cen­tre sought al­ter­na­tive mar­kets af­ter the fac­tory re­fused to buy their tea for more than three months as pun­ish­ment for their re­fusal to sign the Green Leaf Sup­ply Agree­ment. The farm­ers said it was dra­co­nian.

They said the agree­ment termed tea farm­ers sup­pli­ers and not share­hold­ers, yet they own the tea fac­to­ries. The pact also pro­hib­ited them from en­ter­ing into a tea buy­ing con­tract with another fac­tory, as their con­tracts would be in force in­def­i­nitely.

The farm­ers now want the Murang’a County Tea Bill 2014 im­ple­mented. It pro­poses for­ma­tion of a county tea board and farm­ers say it will save them from ex­tor­tion by KTDA.

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