Murang’a farmers counting losses as tea brokers strike

Friday, July 28th, 2023 07:30 | By
Tea pickers. PHOTO/Print
Tea pickers. PHOTO/Print

Murang’a tea farmers have decried massive invasion by brokers in the area which has given rise to theft of the cash crop.

The farmers said cases of tea theft at the farms and collection centres have become rampant, urging the government to intervene and help weed out the brokers.

Githinji Ngumi, a farmer from Gatunguru Tea Factory said the trend has seen them incur huge losses as they are left with little produce.

“There is an influx of brokers in the area who are using the young men here to get tea and because the majority of the farmers here are registered with KTDA, they resort to stealing” he said.

“In some instances, tea is being picked at night or very early in the morning before the farmers get to the farm” added Ngumi.

Bernard Mwangi, another farmer from Kiru Tea Factory said tea is also being stolen at the collection centres claiming some clerks seem to be colluding with the brokers. He said if not stemmed, the trend will have negative effects on the tea sector and farmers might abandon it because they are not getting their rightful dues.

“We urge the government to eliminate the brokers from the market because they are operating in this area without any permit and thus their business is illegal” Mwangi remarked.
The farmers have also decried delay in distribution of fertiliser claiming that this might affect tea production.

Peter Muraya said the fertiliser is usually supplied early July but until now there are no indications when they will get it. He said July is the most appropriate time to have the fertiliser applied on the tea farms due to the light rains which enable it to be absorbed.

“If the fertiliser comes late, it will be of no help to us because we can’t apply when the short rains begin since it will be washed away” he said. “We urge the KTDA to speed up the process and ensure the input is availed to us in the next one week” added Muraya.

The farmers also urged the newly elected Kenya Tea Development Agency
Chairman Enos Njeru to ensure he implements the tea reforms but cautioned against dragging politics into the tea sector.

They urged him to streamline the sector saying this would help the farmers realize more benefits from the produce. The farmers also proposed for an increment in monthly payment from Sh26 to Sh30 per kilo and this money should not be delayed.

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