It was interesting to read “Talking Point” by Francis Wanyanga on August 3.
We are happy to share with him a few facts about the management of Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and the tea industry in general.
We have read press reports of the Senate Committee on Agriculture calling for a probe of the entire tea trade.
The Competition Authority of Kenya has also alluded to its interest in looking into the industry to ensure there is fairness across the value chain.
KTDA welcomes the calls for a probe into the operations of tea trade in Kenya as we have nothing to hide.
Fundamentally, KTDA’s record in safeguarding the tea industry’s fortunes in the last 50 years is well documented.
The agency, which is owned mainly by small-scale farmers through their factory companies, has been responsible for maintaining high farm and processing standards, which has ensured Kenya’s tea remains the most coveted in global markets.
Farmers are paid on a monthly basis without fail according to their green leaf deliveries, and are given a final payment once a year (bonus), again according to their deliveries.
The governance system at KTDA is provided for in the company law and articles of association of the companies. Farmers, through a transparent and open system, elect six factory directors to represent them at factory level. Voting in elections is per the shares held as required by the law, rather than one-man-one-vote.
KTDA’s arrangement makes it possible for small-scale tea farmers to enjoy economies of scale in fertiliser procurement, tea collection, processing, transport and marketing.
The tea industry, like any other, does have challenges. These include low prices at auction, sub-division of land, high cost of energy and labour.
We welcome views on how we can further improve our operations and overcome ever-increasing challenges.
Taking cognisance of the highs and lows of the industry, KTDA began a diversification programme, and a sustainability programme in partnership with Rainforest Alliance.
The future of the tea industry will only be safeguarded when all stakeholders play their rightful roles within the value chain. Singling out an entire industry and its players for wholesale blame will not solve the problem.
KTDA Corporate Affairs Department.