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Embu farmers snub lobby’s call to boycott picking tea

Farmers have ignored a strike called by the Kenya United Small Scale Tea Owners Association (Kusto), saying they stand to incur losses over a dispute they don’t understand.

A spot check by the Business Daily indicated that farmers were proceeding with normal activities and delivery was uninterrupted.

The strike which was to start on Monday had seen police officers posted in key tea buying centres in Embu tea zone to prevent a lobby group from disrupting tea picking and delivery.

Tea Producers Association chairman Harrison Kathuri, who has in the past been behind organising tea-picking strikes in the area said they had urged members to ignore strike calls.

Regional tea farmers association chairman Joshua Kanake said they understood the current poor prices were caused by market dynamics and would “avoid incitement.”

They said this was the peak harvest season and farmers in Rukuriri, Mungania and Kathangariri factories would incur losses of up to Sh4.2 million per day if they boycotted picking.

Mr Kanake, who is also the chairman of Rukuriri tea factory, said the current poor prices being experienced were as a result of world market dynamics which could not be blamed on the Kenya Tea Development Authority.

“Our farmers should ignore calls for a strike. Meru people who went on strike are now counting loses after boycotting picking. We will not agree to lose our livelihood. We know the poor prices facing the tea sector will end as they are world over,” said Mr Kanake.

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