14 Oct

The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) on Sunday urged all tea farmers not to be incited to boycott tea plucking.

This follows a notice by Mt Kenya Tea farmers threatening to boycott tea picking from October 5 to protest against KTDA’s alleged exploitation.

The farmers said failure by the agency to do away with the court cases that it filed to block the implementation of the tea regulations would spark protests from all tea growing areas.

The urgency cautioned that a boycott would lead to heavy and unnecessary losses to the farmers.

"The boycott will thus be unfortunate considering farmers own their farms, factories and KTDA through their factories. In this regard, and to ensure that farmers do not incur any losses, the over 4,000 tea buying centres operated by KTDA-managed tea factories will remain operational and will collect green leaf from farmers as is the norm," the urgency said.

"Subsequently, the 69 factories under KTDA’s management will also remain operational."

Led by Moffat Kamau, a farmer from Makomboki tea factory, the farmers had said on Friday that KTDA has failed to heed to their notices.

The farmers have said they will boycott picking their tea until the agency takes their demands seriously.

“From October 5, we are asking all farmers to stop picking their tea as it seems that is the only language KTDA can understand,” Kamau said.

The agency announced that second payments for all KTDA-managed tea factories has been increased by Sh5 billion despite tea prices dropping by eight per cent.

"During the year under review(July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020), small holder tea production went up by 30per cent, exacerbating the surplus production situation in the world, as Kenya is the leading exporter of tea.

However, as a result of the increased volumes and a favorable exchange rate, KTDA managed factories in the country have declared Sh51.8billion as second payment compared to Sh46.4 billion previous financial year. The increase has generally been achieved across all tea growing regions including factories in the Mount Kenya region," the agency said.

Source: The Star