Hawking Of Green Leaf To Blame For Reduced Tea Production In Murang’a

Rampant hawking of green leaf perpetuated in tea growing zones of Murang’a county has pushed some KTDA allied factories to operate below their capacity.

Consequently, the Management of Gatunguru tea factory in Mathioya Sub county has blamed a section of farmers who are selling their green leaf to private manufacturers for causing the anomaly.

During the factory’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held Friday, it emerged that the quantity of green leaf delivered for processing dropped by 7.03 percent compared to previous financial year.

The factory chairman Samson Kaguma observed that during the financial year ending June 30, 2023, farmers allied to them delivered 18.119 million kilos, which is a drop from 19. 48 kilos of green leaf, delivered in the previous financial year.

Kaguma condemned hawking saying it has forced the KTDA allied facility to operate below capacity.

‘During the year under review, hawking of green leaf was rampant as some farmers opted for instant money by selling their produce to private
factories. This is against the agreement the farmers have made with the factory.’ noted Kaguma.

He also attributed the reduction of production to harsh climatic conditions saying dry weather persisted for long.

‘This year we expect production to go up due to conducive climatic conditions. The region is currently experiencing heavy rains and this will lead to more production,’ added the chairman.

He further noted the factory has installed an automated tea withering machine, aimed at reducing the cost of production.

‘Cost of production during the 2022/2023 financial year shot up due to faulty withering machine, but with the installation of automated machine, production costs will go down thus boosting farmers’ earnings,’ he said.

The chairman further called on farmers to adhere to the guidelines in the agreement and ensure they deliver their produce to the factory saying by the end of the current financial year, the management is working to install orthodox tea processing line.

‘To increase farmers’ earni
ngs, we are at an advanced stage to install a line to produce orthodox tea products. The income from orthodox is quite high as compared to CTC tea which we currently produce,’ noted Kaguma saying some factories have started production of orthodox tea which has seen farmers get more dividends.

On his part, Board Member of zone 3, Chege Kirundi called for legal action to stop hawking of green leaf.

Kirundi called for the newly reinstated Tea Board of Kenya to strictly regulate production and marketing of tea saying private companies perpetuating hawking of green leaf should be denied operating licenses.

‘Before a company establishes a tea processing factory, it should reveal the farmers who will be supplying green leaf to the facility. It is criminal for farmers allied to a particular KTDA factory to hawk green leaf to private manufacturers,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Board member said excess power produced at Mitumi hydroelectric power station, which is owned by four factories in zone 3, will be distributed
to other factories located in the southern part of Murang’a county.

‘Production of our own power has helped factories in zone 3, cut cost of production and since there is excess power from the station, we have agreed to sell power to six factories located in southern parts of Murang’a,’ revealed Kirundi.

Source: Kenya News Agency