TROUBLE AS TEA FARMERS PLAN PROTESTS AGAINST KTDA.


 

Tea farmers from Murang’a and Nyeri counties will stage mass action to demand the immediate withdrawal of cases filed against new regulations.

Leaders from the two counties say they will join their colleagues from Kirinyaga in storming to The Kenya Tea Development Agency’s (KTDA) offices in Nairobi to demand accountability.

The leaders met on Tuesday in Kenol, Murang’a, where they accused KTDA of using huge sums of farmers’ money to finance court cases meant to exploit them further.

They then added that the new regulations gazetted by the government in May are their only way of breaching poverty to which they have been condemned.

Mr.Patrick Ngunjiri, a farmer supplying to Gitugi factory in Nyeri, said the new regulations set were meant to destroy an opaque and exploiting system that had engulfed them for years.

“But in a move to maintain the status quo, KTDA and its affiliates went to court and in the last two months have obtained ex parte orders to stop implementation of the regulations,” Ngunjiri said.

He further said that by issuing the orders, the courts have become a blockage to the reforms, keeping farmers from economic bondage.

“The Judiciary failed to consider the plight of more than 680,000 small-scale farmers who have been suffering under KTDA’s management, Patrick said.

“We are angered by these orders and have decided it is now time for mass action to protest against the court’s decision to keep us in the status quo and propagate ‘animal farm justice’ where some animals are treated better than others,” he added.

Ngunjiri who is also a lawyer, said farmers can exercise their sovereign authority as shareholders of tea factories and invoke the Companies Act, 2015, and their factories’ articles of association to call for extraordinary general meetings and make resolutions that cut their ties with KTDA.

Moffat Kamau from Makomboki factory also accused KTDA of blocking any attempt by farmers to free them from the agency’s hold.

In the recent prices, Kebirigo factory in Kisii and Gianchore in Nyamira received as low as Sh10 per kilogram, while Nduti and Njunu received Sh24 and Sh25 respectively.

“We are saying enough is enough. If these regulations are not immediately enforced, we will stop picking tea and call for mass action. KTDA will know that tea belongs to farmers,” Kamau said.

Samuel Njunu from Njunu tea factory said KTDA has compromised factories’ directors who should fight for farmers’ interests.

“The directors have refused to sit down with us and are being used by KTDA to peddle lies to susceptible farmers. They should also get ready to pack and go. We elected them and are ready to take back their powers,” he said.

Mary Nderitu, also from Gitugi factory, said it is women who know the pain of tending tea farms and many of them suffer from arthritis, despite having nothing much to show for their hard work.

She said the crop does not earn them enough money to support their families and has instead tied them to piling debts.

 

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