​​​​​​​Bomet tea farmers protest non-collection of green leaf

Tea factory

Workers load bags of green tea leaves at a factory in Kericho. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Tea growers supplying green leaf to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA)-managed Tirgaga Tea Factory in Bomet have demonstrated over the non-collection of their produce.

“Unfortunately, the plucking cycle has been disrupted due to the failure of Tirgaga Tea Factory's management to communicate with farmers about the challenges leading to non-collection of the green leaf,” said Paul Bett, a tea grower.

The farmers said they have spent days at the tea collection centres, watching helplessly as their perishable produce goes to waste.

“We have incurred huge operational costs with the tea overgrowing in our farms. Small-scale growers cannot make ends meet, pay the casual workers who pluck the green leaves, or provide for their families,” said Joyce Langat, a farmer.

Hundreds of farmers jammed the factory, demanding to be addressed by the management but were dispersed by police. Some police officers threatened to beat up journalists and destroy their gadgets.

The factory's top management was held up in a meeting as the farmers demonstrated outside the premises.

“We are sorting out the matter. Floods that destroyed the road network and a glut in production have complicated the collection,” said a manager who declined to be named.

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