Kenya: Unpaid bonuses spark protest of Tea Farmers

Farmers in Nyeri County of Kenya have vowed to continue boycotting tea plucking this season if their bonuses are not duly paid.

According to the farmers, they have been burdened by debts all their lives and have given up on the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).

Some farmers affiliated to Gitugi, Gathuthi, Iriani, Chinga and Ratagi factories made good their threats when they did not deliver their produce.

The case was not different in Meru County where farmers uprooted tea bushes to join in the agitation against poor earning from crops.

Recently, the KTDA filed a court case to halt the implementation of a policy that was meant to boost the earnings of farmers, reports revealed.

Farmers last week warned the KTDA to withdraw its court case filed, or else, it would spark protests from all tea growing areas.

These grievances came into being as a result of the debt burden on the farmers despite the increase in revenues generated by Sh5 billion; from Sh46.4 billion paid out in the last financial year to SH 51.8billion.

However, each month, the agency pays farmers Sh16 a kilo, from which tea pickers get Sh10, leaving the farmers with Sh6, used in paying for tax and fertilisers.

Some farmers are already diversifying into horticulture, saying it is more profitable than tea.

Mr. Gideon Mutwiri, a farmer who delivers his tea leaves to the Imenti South Tea Factory said last season he cleared an eighth of an acre and planted ginger, which earned him Sh300,000.

“Tea is no longer profitable and that’s why we are uprooting the bushes. I harvested one ton of ginger and sold each kilo at Sh300.

This season I am planting pepper and vegetables,” Mutwiri said.

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