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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 7 December 2014

TEA FARMERS NOW DEMAND SH87B FOR KTDA

About 10,000 farmers from Kericho county have moved to court on behalf of their 400,000 colleagues countrywide to protest against alleged exploitation by Kenya Tea Development Agency and to demand a refund of a staggering Sh87 billion which they claim the company has been deducting from them illegally for last 15 years.
Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony who represents the farmers has instructed Manyoke Wanyama and Associates to demand the Sh87billion which he claims was taken from farmers illegally since 2000 when KTDA – then an authority reverted to a private company.
The farmers have given the factory directors 21 days notice to resign their position and face re-election warning that they will be branded corrupt if they stay in office any longer.
Representing the law firm, Peter Wanyama, confirmed  that  they have filed a case in the Kericho High Court cause number 18 in which Kericho governor is listed against 15 companies, KTDA, Chai Tea Trading Limited, Ajani Limited, Kenya Tea Packers Limited, Unilever International, James Finlay, Lipton and others.
In the case, farmers are claiming that the companies are involved in illegal price fixing exercise, while KTDA, which is an agency that manages smallholders’ tea processing factories throughout Kenya has been overtaxing and unfairly taxing Rift Valley farmers through cess money.
Farmers say they are not involved in decision making and taxation process where some areas popularly referred to as zones - are taxed more than others. Farmers want unified taxation and removal of brokers.
The farmers’ lawyer wants KTDA and other companies involved in tea business to avail to farmers statements of financial reports since 2000 capturing all their operations.
The farmers, through their lawyer are demanding for compensation of Sh87 billion to be spread uniformly between the 400,000 farmers countrywide which they claim is deduced from double deductions.
The farmers said that direction be given to KTDA to stop charging farmers twice  for management services through the 40pc deduction  on gross tea sales as operation expenses over and above the 2.5pc management fee charged on gross sales.
Earlier, farmers demanded a written statement from KTDA giving reasons on why they are not paying western tea companies the same amount with the other growers.
They said that KTDA was not rendering administrative action on issues concerning farmers in the manner that they expect and that they were inefficient.
Farmer after farmer  lamented that the agency was unable to collect green leaf on time from buying centers, resulting to poor prices and endangering there lives.
They accused the agency for colluding with multi-national companies and brokers in Mombasa to fix prices and fleece farmers of Rift Valley.
Farmers want all activities involving processing and sell of tea and its products done in Kericho and Bomet counties which are the largest producers of green leaf in Kenya.