Days after admitting the revival of coffee farming has hit turbulence, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has taken credit for improved tea bonus.
But farmers are skeptical about the increase saying the depreciation of the shilling has given a false impression of a rise in earnings.
Tea is a key export that is paid in dollars and with the high depreciation of the dollar, the real prices of tea have been distorted.
Speaking today, Gachagua credited the ongoing reforms in the tea sub-sector saying they were bearing fruits citing improved bonuses for smallholder farmers this year.
The DP said the reforms he has been tasked by President William Ruto to implement in the subsector had led to increased final bonuses for thousands of farmers attached to Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories spread across the country.
He spoke when he hosted KTDA Directors representing the factories at the DP’s Official Residence in Karen, Mr Gachagua said they will push for better pay as the reforms are implemented.
“We are proud that within six months of the reforms, we are restoring sanity and stabilising the Tea Subsector as envisioned under the Kenya Kwanza Plan of putting more money in the pocket of the farmer. This is a direct positive impact to the farmer, who is at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. We are dignifying the farmer,” said the DP.
The Deputy President said the successful implementation of the reforms had been due to cooperation by the KTDA directors since the Tea Conference in Kericho last July.
“The players in the tea industry have embraced reforms. There has been no resistance. This is the fruit of embracing reforms. We will support KTDA to the hilt. A factory is as good as its directors. A factory is as successful as its leadership. You have proven through results that you are offering good leadership in the factories,” he added.
He added that they will continue to streamline the sub-sector in order to push the earnings higher up promising to work closely with the directors to ensure the targets are achieved.
“We must push the bonuses even higher in the next five years. That is why we will follow up on implementation of the reforms to the last dot. A review of all legal, policy and regulative frameworks is ongoing for lasting reforms. I thank MPs and Senators for their commitment in supporting the reforms,” he stated.
In this year’s bonuses, Gitugi factory in Nyeri will pay the highest at Sh57 per kilogramme, followed by Imenti in Meru (Sh52 per kilo) and Michimikuru (Sh47/kilo), also in Meru. Momul tea factory (Sh44.8/kilo) in Kericho was also recognised for consistent higher pay to farmers.
Nyankoba factory in Nyamira (Sh35/kilo) recorded the most improved pay this year.