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Tea Farmers Demand Immediate Withdrawal Of The Cases KTDA Filed Against New Tea Regulations.



Tea Farmers Demand Immediate Withdrawal Of The Cases KTDA Filed Against New Tea Regulations.

A section of opinion leaders in the tea sector from the two counties have said they will join their counterparts from Kirinyaga county who have threatened to march to KTDA’s offices in Nairobi to demand for accountability.

The leaders who met on Tuesday at Kenol in Murang’a County accused KTDA of using hefty sums of money to finance court cases meant to further exploit farmers.

They said the new regulations gazette by the government in May this year are their only way of the cycle of poverty that they have been condemned to live in.

Patrick Ngunjiri, a farmer from Gitugi tea factory in Nyeri county said the new regulations set in motion reforms meant to dismantle an opaque and exploitative system that has enslaved farmers for decades.

“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 the implementation of the regulations,” he said.

Ngunjiri said by issuing the orders, the judiciary has become the stumbling block, keeping farmers from economic emancipation.

The judiciary failed to consider the plight of over 680,000 small scale farmers who have been suffering under KTDA’s management, he 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 said.

The regulations’ benefits, he noted, will not be accrued unless the cases are withdrawn and farmers will continue to live in the modern-day slavery perpetrated by the agency.

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 extra-ordinary general meetings and make resolutions that severe their ties with KTDA.

Moffat Kamau from Makomboki factory accused KTDA of blocking any attempt by farmers to save themselves from its stranglehold.

Kamau said the meager annual bonuses that the agency has announced will not be accepted and that farmers will hold nationwide protests.

In the recent prices, Kebirigo tea factory in Kisii and Gianchore in Nyamira received as low as Sh. 10 per kilogram while Nduti and Njunu received Sh. 24 and Sh. 25 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,” he added.

Samuel Njunu from Njunu tea factory said KTDA has compromised tea 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 power,” he added.

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

The crop, she said, does not earn them enough money to support their families and keep them in a vicious cycle of debts.

Wambugu Gachunji from Kanyenya-ini factory accused KTDA of paying meager bonuses to retain part of their payments to finance court cases.

“We want the cases to be withdrawn with immediate effect failure to which we will stop harvesting tea,” he said.

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