Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has told off former directors warning them to keep off the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) over their continued meddling with the affairs of the organization.
He said he was aware of recent attempts attempts by the former directors to takeover the management of KTDA Holdings and the smallholder tea factories.
“The government will not allow interference with the management of tea farmers properties and therefore urge those aggrieved with the elections that were held last year by smallholder tea farmers to await conclusion of the cases they filed in court,” he said.
On the implementation of the Tea Act 2020, that has been affected by several court cases, Mithika said his ministry in collaboration with COG has formed a task force to resolve outstanding issues and pave way for the implementation.
He urged the factory Boards to formulate policies that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the running of tea factories, exercise prudence in management of farmers resources while at the same time focusing on their oversight role.
Mithika said the government recognizes and appreciates the strategic role that the tea industry plays in the socioeconomic development of our country.
Mithika was speaking to tea Industry stakeholders during the KTDA Annual Directors Conference at the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.
He noted that the industry accounts for about 2% of the National GDP and 4% of the Agriculture GDP and
supports the livelihood of over 750,000 farmers and approximately 6 million directly and indirectly.
Mithika added that the tea industry supports the development of the rural areas as tea growing and manufacturing are rural based enterprises spread across 19 out of the 47 Counties in Kenya.
It also supports other sectors of the economy such as transport and trade and being an export-oriented crop, tea is among the leading forex earners for the country generating on average over Ksh 130 billion annually in export earnings.
Mithika said tea has also put Kenya on the global map, as Kenya is the 3rd leading producer of
tea after China and India and the leading exporter of tea to over 77countries globally.
He noted that the industry has been facing the tea industry has been facing a myriad of challenges, which collectively threaten its sustainability.
Among the key challenges facing the tea industry is the increasing cost of production occasioned by the rising cost of inputs such as fertilizer, labour and electricity especially in the manufacturing of tea and other value chain activities. Other challenges include poor governance in the management of the smallholder tea sub-sector.
In the current financial year, the Government provided Kshs. 4.44 billion fertilizer subsidy to tea farmers in all the 54 smallholder’s tea factories. This reduced the cost of fertilizer by Kshs 2,117 per 50 Kg bag from Kshs 5,617 to Kshs 3,500.
It is expected that following the application of the fertilizer during the short-rains October to December 2022 season, productivity and quality of green leaf will be enhanced and consequently, improve tea farmers’ earnings.