Tea farmers across the country are expected to earn better following completion of negotiations to review management agreements between smallholder tea factories and KTDA Management Service LTD.
The review of the management agreements hopes to remedy the relationship between the parties involved in the tea sector and improve the management of tea factories for the benefit of tea farmers.
Among key changes in the revised management agreement is enhanced respect to farmers during and after collection of their tea leaves and improved services in the collection of the produce from buying centres.
In the new setup, the money charged from farmers to facilitate operations of KTDA-MS has been reduced from the current 2.5pc to 1.5pc, a move that could make the over 8 million tea farmers save over Sh 800 million charged by the MS every year, money that will end up in the farmers pockets.
According to KTDA national chairman David Ichoho, tea farmers are significant economic pillars and as such, more efforts are being put towards supporting the empowerment and improved returns for the farmers.
Speaking after a full-day meeting with Kambaa, Kagwe, Ndarugo, Theta, Gachege and Mataara tea factories directors in Ruiru, Ichoho revealed that under the new arrangement key performance indicators to monitor the performance of the management agency on a continuous basis has been introduced.
The term for services offered by the KTDA-MS such as production, transportation, marketing, management of accounts among others has also been reduced from the current 10 years to 5 years which is expected to enhance accountability of the management agency.
Meanwhile, Ichoho stated that farmers across the country are set to make more smiles to their respective banks after the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) began installation Orthodox tea processing lines in 13 factories.
Orthodox tea refers to loose leaves that are produced using traditional methods that include plucking, withering, rolling, fermentation and drying.
Compared to the Cutting, Tearing and Curling type of tea variety that the agency has been producing, Orthodox tea that includes oolong, green, white and black tea has a high demand internationally, a move that has compelled KTDA to enhance its production.
Ichoho noted that the government has already pumped Sh 800 million to assist in procurement of Orthodox tea-producing machines as it seeks to beat the two million kilos demand yearly against the current production of about 500,000 kilos.
The chairman who rooted for quality production of tea to retain Kenya’s dominance on the global map confirmed that demand for Orthodox tea has been rising day by day especially in Russia and Iran and as such, factories should diversify their products for more income.
On his part, Gilbert Githae, a director from Mataara Tea Factory noted that the new changes will facilitate the addition of extra money to farmers.
Under the new agreement, Githae stated that factory workers including managers will henceforth be paid by KTDA Management Services, a move that will reduce the burden of tea farmers who have over the years been remunerating factory staff.