The Minister of the Cabinet of Agriculture Peter Munya has ordered that a forensic and systemic audit be carried out in all KTDA factories, its subsidiaries and smallholder tea factories in order to improve efficiency.
Munya noted that forensic investigators will attempt to determine any wrongdoing, such as fraud or misappropriation of funds, by the former board members.
Speaking to Chebut Tea Factory in Kapsabet Town, Nandi County, Munya said the operation, which should take a month and a half, also aims to cut operating costs so farmers can benefit from their products.
âThe price can be good, but as long as the operating costs are high, farmers cannot benefit. So we need the audit report to know which loopholes should be closed, âhe said
The cabinet secretary said the review would also allow the ministry to determine whether downsizing and restructuring is needed in KTDA companies.
The tea subsector is very important in Kenya as it supports over 6 million Kenyans directly and indirectly.
According to the recently published Economic Survey of Kenya, tea contributed a total of Sh122.2 billion to the Kenyan economy last year, making it one of the largest contributors to the country’s economy.
Even so, late payments and low agency prices have led farmers to sell their tea to meet their financial needs.
Munya, who was accompanied by Cherangany lawmaker Joshua Kutuny, said that from Jan.
The cabinet secretary said the move would allow the agency to save money and reinvest it in paying smallholder farmers who are suffering from losses.
Lukose Willington, farmers representative for the South West Zone, urged the Department of Agriculture to ensure that they receive subsidized fertilizer next year so that they can continue to grow tea.
In response, Munya assured him that the ministry had set aside Sh1 billion for fertilizer subsidy, which would buy farmers at Sh2.500 from Sh3,200 per 50 kilogram sack.
As part of the reforms to address tea farmer payment delays, Munya said smallholder farmers would be affected by 5. would be paid for their deliveriesNS Day of every month just like multinational companies.
Another farmer, Meto Kiptanui, asked the Agriculture Authority to address the issue of distortion of green leaf weighing machines in various tea shopping malls, saying that many tea farmers are being exploited.
Nandi County has several tea factories, including the Kaptumo Tea Factory in the Nandi Hills, Chemomi, Kapchabo, and Sireet Tea. Tea cultivation is the most important source of income in the region.
Over the years the tea farmers have been poorly paid, even though the goods are among the best foreign exchange earners in Kenya.
Regarding diversification, Munya said plans are underway to increase production of Orthodox teas, the yields of which have been much higher than those of CTC teas.
He said that each zone would have an Orthodox machine and would help farmers expand their production lines with Orthodox tea at a low cost.
“Increased production and sales of Orthodox tea will increase the financial performance of the tea factories and the income for the tea farmers,” he said.
By Linet Wafula