NYERI, Kenya, Apr 23 – Tea farmers from Nyeri county have expressed concerns that they may not be paid their mini bonus and end month payments following confusion occasioned by the election of two set of directors.
The farmers from Gitugi tea factory in Othaya say that although they are not opposed to reforms in the sector, the recently held elections and raid at Kenya Tea Development Agency may result to them not being paid their dues.
“As farmers we feel that these reforms being excuted by the government may be counter productive, sources in the agency say that they may not pay us. We are therefore urging the governor to come to our rescue,” said David mbari.
Two weeks ago the Ministry of Agricuture ordered for the election of directors in all KTDA run factories in line with new reforms being undertaken in the tea sector.
The farmers say that although they were eager to remove some directors, the elections that were held were not free and fair due to the fact that people who were not farmers participated .
KTDA directors who were in office before the minsitry ordered for the exercise had obtained court orders stopping the elections and the case is still pending in court.
The directors who are yet to vacate the office had moved to the high court in Nairobi saying that the exercise was illegal and void, since they have an election procedure that is set by factories who are limited companies.
The farmers say that the goverment should bring the two sides to a round table and agree on the way forward for their sake since they have children to take back to schools.
“As farmers we fear that we may not be able to take our children back to school. This is why we are seek support from the government to bail us,” they said
The farmers said that the polls that were conducted were not free and fair hence need for streamlining the exercise.
“We feel that the polls that were conducted were a sham since there was no proper indentification of genuine farmers,” they said.
KTDA in a communique sent to newsroom vindicate farmers views on delay in paying their monthly dues .
“KTDA group informs its stakeholders that following raid on it’s premises by a multi- agency team on 16 April, critical ICT infrastructure hardware and documents taken away are yet to be returned .This has resulted in major disruption of its services to smallholder farmers whom we pay their monthly due on date 24 each month, ” read the statement.
However the firm says that it’s doing everything possible to rectify the problem and processing of payment is in progress and ask more than 62,000 farmers to be patient .
The group further say that they have nothing to hide since they conduct legitimate bussiness and assured suppliers and bussiness associate that they are doing everything possible to resolve the issue.