Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Farmers to uproot tea crop over falling prices.Drive Hot News

Tea farmers pick their crop at Gaturuturu village in Othaya on September 25, 2014. Small-scale tea farmers on October 14, 2014 resolved to uproot the crop and venture into the real estate business to mitigate against the effects of falling prices. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Tea farmers pick their crop at Gaturuturu village in Othaya on September 25, 2014. Small-scale tea farmers on October 14, 2014 resolved to uproot the crop and venture into the real estate business to mitigate against the effects of falling prices. FILE PHOTO

Small-scale tea farmers on Tuesday resolved to uproot the crop and venture into the real estate business to mitigate against the effects of falling prices.
The farmers said they were seeking alternative sources of income because of poor tea prices in the global market.
The more than 31,000 tea farmers from Sireet Tea Company in Nandi County said they would focus on real estate and tree planting since they lack the capacity to export their produce.
“The upcoming Samoei University College in Nandi Hills town requires quality housing and tea farmers are ready to invest in buildings and commercial tree planting since they could earn higher profits than what they are getting from tea,” said Sireet Tea Company chairman Wilson Tuwei during the farmers’ meeting.
He said tea farmers were unable to pay school fees for their children in secondary school and university because of low earnings.
“They will start uprooting tea to invest in buildings and take advantage of the Samoei University College which will start admitting students in September next year,” he said.
RESIDENTIAL HOUSES
Mr Paul Tionyi, a director at Sireet Tea Company, said they had already acquired six acres near Eldoret International Airport where they plan to build residential houses.
He noted that they would start uprooting tea bushes at their plantation near the proposed Samoei University College to make way for residential buildings before the end of this year.
He said the farmers and shareholders had approved the idea.
Mr Tuwei noted that members of Sireet Outgrower Empowerment Company, which sells tea to multi-national companies, supplied 40 per cent of the produce to Eastern Produce Tea Company of Kenya but the low earnings had discouraged farmers.
“The earnings have dropped since 2012 due to low prices in the world market. Farmers at the company last year earned 38 per cent less than the previous year,” he said.
NEW MARKETS
He urged the government to buy the extra tea which farmers produce and look for new markets.
Mr Joseph Lagat, another director at Sireet Tea Company, asked the government to address farmers’ complaints.
He said the government should explore new markets instead of asking farmers to expand tea farms without considering new markets for the produce.
“Most of the buyers have been purchasing tea from other countries because the government has not removed the one per cent tax levied on Kenyan tea,” he said.
At the same time, Mr Lagat called for the use of plucking machines to reduce operational costs in tea farming