Farmers in Belgut supplying tea to the Tegat Tea Factory engaged police in running battles on Monday morning.
This is after making good their threat to boycott plucking tea over the 2018 bonus payments. Roads were blocked as farmers demanded to be addressed by the management of the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) affiliated factory.
The farmers argued that farmers supplying their produce to Tegat Tea Factory received lower payments compared to other factories in the region.
They noted that the Mamul Factory paid farmers Sh28 yet they only received Sh14 per kilo. The over 70 buying centers in the region were disserted as farmers converged at the Tegat Trading Centre.
Kapsoit MCA Paul Chirchir who joined the protesters accused the KTDA directors of 'joining the cartels in feasting on the sweat of farmers'.
“As the County Assembly of Kericho, we formed an ad hoc committee, carried out extensive research and engaged the various stakeholders in a bid to end this perennial problem that has enslaved our tea farmers. We made a report which is in the public domain and the same was presented to KTDA to act upon it. KTDA in its usual style and manner it seems shredded our report since none of the proposals have been implemented up to date. Everything has an expiry date but the truth lives on. KTDA may have trashed our report but we shall never relent." he said
The vocal MCA further disputed the argument that the price difference in different regions was informed by the quality of tea and asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to intervene in the matter.
“The fallacious argument about the quality of the tea is a defeatist narrative that has been coined and packaged and sold by stupid and heartless cartels to impoverish tea farmers further. As a leadership, we demand that the DPP and DCI intervene to remove the yoke of slavery that has been chained on the farmers' necks for decades," he added in Facebook post on Sunday.
KTDA Managing Director Mr Lerionka Tiampati in a past interview with Business Daily, explained the income variations across the country, citing the varied volumes processed by different factories, varied prices factories sell during auction or direct market and the variation of cost of production among other reasons.