Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Monday, January 16 met Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) directors as the government firmed up reforms geared towards increasing pay for farmers.
Gachagua said they would not relent on their push to streamline the sector in a bid to make it more profitable to farmers.
He hosted the Board of Directors led by Chairman David Muni Ichoho at his office in Harambee Annex promising the administration’s readiness to work with them to clear the industry of cartels out to exploit farmers.
“We are concerned about the capture of the sector by various forces which are working to the disadvantage of the farmers. We want to free the sector from these forces,” he said.
He said the administration’s sole interest was on how to improve the farmers’ fortunes so that farming does not remain a vicious cycle of poor returns and endless pain.
“We have no personal interest in the sector other than the interest of the local farmers. The situation we have now is not pleasant. It is a vicious cycle of poor returns for our tea farmers. The tea farms make beautiful scenery across the country but the owners remain poor,” said the DP.
President William Ruto has tasked the DP with spearheading the reforms in the tea, coffee and milk sectors and has expressed full trust in his ability to reform them.
The DP said the end result was to put more money in farmers’ pockets.
Already the government has rolled out a fertilizer subsidy program that has seen farmers buy the input at Sh3,500 down from Sh6,000.
This is part of the administration’s plan to ease the pain of farming with the main objective to reduce the cost of food.
“Our farmers have been fairly disadvantaged. We want to lessen the burden for them. We have already subsidized fertilizers. We want them to reap good yields without overspending on their farms,” the DP stated.
Gachagua said KTDA management was now stable and they would work with the directors present in the office.
He challenged the directors to work with the government in its bid to streamline the sector.
“We recognize you as the legitimate office bearers and we want to work with you because the same people you are serving are the same who elected us. We want farmers to increase their earnings and live better lives,” he noted.
He said he will constitute a small team of industry representatives to lead the reforms in the tea sector.
He also promised to look at the decisions made by the previous board that was to the detriment of the farmers’ earnings.
Present was the Principal Secretary in Charge of Cabinet Affairs Julius Korir.
The directors were accompanied by KTDA Chief Executive Officer Wilson Muthaura.