Kenya's tea trade faces uncertainty as multinationals processors intensify their efforts to source the commodity directly from farmers, a Kenya Tea Development Agency director has said.
Chege Kirundi, the director in charge of zone three, said the rising cases of tea hawking are threatening the tea trade movement under the KTDA. He said tea hawking encouraged by multinational processors has intensified competition against KTDA for the green leaf.
Speaking at Kiru tea factory in Mathioya yesterday, Kirundi warned that the new marketing chains created by the processors will affect tea pricing at the Mombasa auction and factories.
"Tea hawking is dangerous and no one should be allowed to buy the commodity directly from farmers because this will affect KTDA," he said. Some farmers in Central and Rift Valley regions have entered into contracts with multinational tea processors.
Although the auction still presents the best avenue for marketing the commodity, farmers have in the past raised concerns over its inefficiency and costs, forcing them to seek alternative ways to sell their produce.
The Star has learnt that hawkers buy a kilogramme of tea at an average of Sh22 while KTDA pays Sh14. Kirundi urged county governments to incorporate players in the tea sector while formulating tea laws. "It will be very bad if the counties will make laws to guide the sector without the contributions of those in it," he said.
Meanwhile, Kanyanye-ini tea factory in Kangema survived from being blocked from confirming Peter Gachuhi as a director during today's annual general meeting after last week's rotational election that were called by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
The case which was in Murang'a high court judge said if the matters raised in the petition by tea farmers Lucy Nyakiago and John Maina will be found to be true the court will direct Gachuhi be stripped off from the directorship.
The petitioners through lawyer Njenga Muchai had sought order to restrain the tea factory holding its annual general meeting today (Tuesday) from confirming Gachuhi citing his election was marred with malpractices and other irregulaties. The matter was fixed for inter-parties hearing on January 30 this year.