Nyamira County MCAs have called for the relevant authorities to initiate a lifestyle audit all Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) directors saying they are the source of misery among tea farmers.
This is after the farmers across the country received the lowest pay per kilogram of the commodity in as many years.
Speaking in Nyamira Town Tuesday, Kiabonyoru ward representative Duke Omoti asked the directorate of criminal investigations (DCI) and other auditing external bodies to commence lifestyle audit of the factories directors who he said have turned against the farmer.
“These directors are living far beyond their reach and this should worry everybody. The directors are not salaried but their lifestyle tell a lot about what’s going on behind our tea growers.
"The quarterly allowances they receive cannot support their current standards, they need to be investigated as they have left the poor farmer frustrated and terrorized by the auctioneers at the Mombasa go downs," he said.
Omoti, one of large scale tea growers said the low tea prices had affected him directly as the input is far above compared to the end results.
“Am one of the most hit farmer, am working on a big loss compared to what I invest in the business, it’s time we cushion our farmers against the money-hungry directors who are doing more harm than good to our farmers," added Omoti.
His Esise counterpart Joseph Nyarang’o said the current method of electing directors should be abolished so as literate and transparent directors get the chance of helping the now collapsing tea sector in Gusii and Kenya as a whole.
“The current method of using tea shares as votes should be abolished. This has been used to deny genuine people a chance to represent the farmers. Each farmer should represent one vote contrary to the number of shares owned by a farmer to represent the number of votes," said Nyarang’o.
Nyarang’o also urged tea farmers no to allow their tea be blended with that from other regions as this act reduced the quality of their commodity hence lack of good market. This also affects the market price.
“Our farmers should demonstrate and demand that tea blending stops, the tea from our region is not the same as that of other region, we pick the best tea and when its mixed (blended) with other teas, the quality reduces and that affects performance in the foreign markets, let our tea be sold separately for better prices," he added.
This year’s tea bonuses payment is the lowest as the worst paid factory received less Sh10 per a kilogram. Some farmers have opted to uproot the crop citing frustrations from the agency.Agriculture is devolved to county governments.