Agriculture CS Peter Munya has directed tea factories to reduce costs on productions so that farmers can get good pay.
Speaking at Itumbe and Ogembo factories in Kisii, Cs said that low pay has been majorly contributed by costs involved.
The CS decried high production costs in tea factories that are managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) which consequently impacts on low returns to farmers.
” The smallholder producers will be required to reengineer their processes in order to cut down on operational inefficiencies and wastage,” he said.
Government through the Ministry and in collaboration with other state agencies will facilitate support for reduction of farm inputs costs and costs associated with storage, transportation logistics and port handling.
“Specifically, my Ministry is exploring the possibility of the use of SGR as an affordable alternative for transporting tea to the port of Mombasa and with regard to storage, exploring the use of existing Government storage facilities around the smallholder tea factories.
He ordered that the insurance funds which the small tea farmers pay should stop until they stabilize it because it is not helping farmers to cater for medical bills.
Mr Munya said that they are going to do forensic Audit to KTDA and tea factories to see how funds have been used.
The CS said tea factories management together with the Tea Board of Kenya and other relevant government agencies will be expected to urgently address the malpractices surrounding the falsification and manipulation of weighing of green leaf at tea buying centers with a view to ensuring that farmers derive maximum benefit from their produce.
“What we are planning is to have digital weighing machines, to reduce theft in tea buying centers, but before we reach in that decision, those found manipulating will face the law and be charged with criminal offence, ” he said.
Munya decreed that through the tea reforms that were enacted by the national assembly the crop growers will now have a guaranteed minimum return which began August this year.
He advised county governments to provide extension services to farmers so as to help produce good quality of tea thereupon capping production costs.
Mr Munya urged farmers to shun politicians with divisive politics and instead elect visionary leaders with the interests of farmers at heart.
The Tea reforms agenda engineered by government is geared towards transforming the pricing mechanism through automation of the Auction trading platform and whose system has already been implemented