Home General Quality eats into tea farmers’ pay : The Standard

Quality eats into tea farmers’ pay : The Standard

by kenya-tribune

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony (left) and Kenya Tea Development Agency Operations Director Alfred Njage after a meeting in Kericho. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

Kenya Tea Development Agency has come out to explain to farmers in South Rift the differences in earning of tea bonuses.

Alfred Njage, KTDA’s Operations Director, told farmers at a meeting in Kericho town that their earnings is determined by the quality of green leaf and that of processed tea.
“What brings differences in prices that farmers earn is the plucking standards. It is a great contributor to the overall quality of cup of tea. Only the very good leaf should be plucked and delivered to the factory,” said Njage.
During the meeting attended by governor Paul Chepkwony, it also emerged that tea farmers in KTDA’s West and East of Rift Valley plant the same clone of tea, but the difference is in quality of green leaf delivered to factories. 
SEE ALSO :DP Ruto’s nine push-ups electrify Kericho crowdThere have been concerns that there is unfairness in how bonuses are paid out across the factories.
“Factories process varied volumes of tea depending on the size of the catchment areas and the volumes of tea produced. This determines factory capacity utilisation and hence cost efficiency,” said Njage.
He noted that quality of green leaf is further determined by ecological and climatic features such as types of soil and quantity of rainfall, as well as the quality of farm management practices such as application of fertiliser, pruning and plucking.
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Kericho and Bomet tea farmers have been up in arms against KTDA over low bonus prices when compared to earning by their Mt Kenya region counterparts.  
“The major clones of tea planted by the smallholder tea sub-sector are developed by the Kenya Tea Research Foundation (TRF). Those are clone 31/8, 6/8, 303/577 among others,” said Njage.  
SEE ALSO :CS Tobiko told Mau eviction plan illegalThe plantation of the clones of tea stretches from Kapsara in Trans Nzoia to Igembe in Meru county.  
“For instance, the reason why in Kericho, Momul tea factory paid farmers Sh28 per kilo while Tegat tea factory paid Sh14 is because Momul has for the last 10 years persistently asked tea growers to deliver best leaf possible,” said Njage.  
The KTDA’s operation director explained that in order for a factory to attract better prices it must place on the table better tea.  
Governor Chepkwony asked the Government to abolish the 16 per cent VAT levied on local tea sales.  
“My administration will establish a Sh150 million tea factory for value addition of the tea from our Kabianga tea farm. The factory will also deal with production of orthodox tea,” he said.  
Fertiliser subsidy
SEE ALSO :Busia, Kericho to sign dairy pactChepkwony added that his administration will also set aside Sh50 million as a fertiliser subsidy to cushion tea farmers. 
Njage said some of factories were investing on hydro-power plants to slash the cost of electricity.  
In Kericho County, KTDA is in the process of constructing a hydro-power plant along Chemosit river.  
“Energy and labour are the most significant cost in factory operations,” said Njage.  
KTDA factories buy energy from the national grid at Sh18 per a kilowatt an hour.  
SEE ALSO :Tea multinationals get notice to surrender title deeds”Once the hydro power plants are up and running they will reduce significantly the amount of money spent on a kilowatt per hour to less than Sh10,” said Ngare.  

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Related Topics
governor Paul ChepkwonyKTDAKericho

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