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Govt warns leaders against inciting tea farmers over low income

Workers picking tea on a tea plantation in a multinational tea plantation in Kericho. /COURTESY.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25 – The Government has warned politicians against inciting tea farmers over the declining prices.

Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said the decline in income is linked to global factors which have led to dwindling bonus payouts to farmers every year.

“The amounts of payouts have largely been affected by the falling tea prices in the global market,” he told a news conference Thursday during his weekly briefing, “leaders should stop politicising the matter.”

He said the Government is exploring various measures to cushion the tea farmers.

There have been protests by farmers in Kericho and other tea-growing areas where farmers threatened to uproot tea bushes over low monthly and annual income.

This is not the desire of the Government and is currently considering mechanisms to ensure the farmer gets good prices for their tea,” he said.

“The Government wishes to caution that the issue of bonus should not be used as a campaign narrative as it not in the hands of any individual to control tea prices at the global market,” he warned.

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has also refuted claims that it is to blame for the low payments to small scale farmers in their 2018/2019 financial year.

In a statement on Thursday, the agency explained that the low prices on the final payment had been anticipated in what it attributed to an oversupply of tea by the global market as well as the drop of tea prices at the Mombasa International Auction center.

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“The drop in tea prices cannot, therefore, be attributed to a single player in the tea value chain either local or international,” the agency explained.

It maintained that Kenya is the leading exporter of tea across the world in over 55 years and encouraged farmers to continue tending to their tea despite the current flop.

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