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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Big storm in tea farmers’ meeting

Small scale tea farmers in Bomet county have rejected a plan by the county government to look for market for their green tea leaves.
A members’ committee meeting called by Governor Isaac Ruto to deliberate on the issue hit a stalemate as a majority of the farmers vowed not to abandon Kenya Tea Development Agency where they belong.
The committee had invited three tea buying firms from tea growing areas of Kapset, Mogogosiek, Kapkoros and some from Kapkatet who are residents of Sotik constituency to the meeting.
No factory directors were invited but the entire directors from the factories stormed the meeting that was chaired by Ruto.
“That was more of a political rally since it was not wise to hold a meeting in Chepalungu which is  not a tea-growing zone,” one of the director’s who attended the meeting stated.
It was not clear why the governor convened such a meeting but according to directors and farmers who were at the meeting, it was a move to convince farmers’ representatives to agree on the deliberations so that the same would be discussed at the county assembly.
The worst of it was that not all those who attended the meeting were farmers, an issue that was viewed not to be in the interest of the farmers.
The directors at the same time stated that they were not party to the meetings’ agenda but that they thought it wise for them to attend and establish the motive behind the meeting that had invited private company committees.
“It seemed like the meeting was planning to look for ways and means  of allowing members from non-tea growing areas to be shareholders of tea factories but not possible,” a farmer posed.
The meeting failed to get tangible resolutions as most of the farmers in attendance were loyal to KTDA.
Ruto on his part, after realising that some of those in attendance were not invited disclosed that the county government was committed to address problems facing the tea sector.
Though the meeting attracted over 1000 farmers, it did not achieve its agenda that the county aspired to achieve.
The directors at the same time urged small scale tea farmers to continue supplying their green tea leaves to respective factories and stop being misled by leaders who have little knowledge on the sector.