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Mount Kenya tea farmers reject KTDA’s 5m shares

pickers

Women pick tea leaves at a farm. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Tea farmers in Mt Kenya region have rejected the offer by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) for allotment of five million shares, terming it a “token” that was meant to hoodwink them and scuttle the agency’s takeover by recently elected directors.

The agency said during a Special General Meeting on April 30, directors amended KTDA Holdings PLC Articles of Association to allow for allotment of 24 million shares to factories while farmers would get five million shares under a new category of shareholders known as “Tea Farmers”.

The allocation of shares will be based on tea leaf supplied between July 1 2019 and June 30 2020, KTDA said in a statement.

The changes were instituted even as farmers were electing new directors amid investigations by the government over alleged abuse of office by the agency’s management.

Currently, there is a tussle over takeover of factories by new directors with KTDA management insisting the elections were held against a court order.

Alex Karuguru, new board chairman at Kanyenaine Tea Factory in Murang’a said since they had not taken over, they did not understand how the change was instituted and the criteria used in allocating the shares.

Yesterday, farmers in the region said it was “a big joke” for the agency to offer them the shares yet KTDA and its subsidiaries rake in billions each year. They said the criteria used to allocate the shares was “exploitative”.

Mr Murithi Nkungi, a farmer in Imenti South who delivers his leaf at Kinoro Tea Factory said between July 2019 and June 2020, he delivered 40,000 kilos of leaf yet according to a schedule released by KTDA, he was supposed to get 112 shares.

“Each share is Sh20 which means that my shares are worth Sh2,240. I am one of the biggest farmers in my factory and if my shares are worth this little it means other farmers will be allotted shares worth peanuts.