Private investors have asked Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA)to stop “ exploiting and violating the rights” of tea farmers in Meru county.
The investors led by Njeru Industries Ltd Managing Director Paul Njeru, said farmers have a right to sell their produce to any organisation or individual without being intimidated by the agency. The investors were reacting to an incident where a section of farmers from Igembe area protested against what they termed as the exploitation by KTDA whom they accused of blocking them from registering and selling their tea to the factory of their choice.
The farmers accused the agency of paying them as low as Sh15 per kilo of green leaf compared to private firms which pay them higher. “It is unconstitutional to intimidate and harass the same farmers who are the shareholders and founders of the institution because they have the right to join the factory of their choice,”said Njeru. For the last one week there has been a tussle between the private firms and KTDA over tea buying and registration of new farmers in the area.
Njeru said they want the government to give farmers a free hand to choose where to sell their tea produce.