KTDA issues tea farmers smartcards with eye on efficiency

Wednesday January 9 2019

 KTDA growers smart card

A farmer holds a KTDA growers smart card at Makomboki area in Murang’a on January 8, 2019. The cards have been rolled out in ten factories in the country to curb tea theft and weight falsification in a bid to foster transparency in factories. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI 

IRENE MUGO
By IRENE MUGO
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Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has launched a smart card for farmers to curb theft and weight falsification as it promotes transparency in factories.

KTDA is issuing its 560,000 members with cards synced with their mobile phones to authorise sale and purchase of tea.

The agency said the card provides growers with a secure way of storing data that can be retrieved at any point. The data includes name of the farmer, grower's number and centre where one delivers their produce.

A farmer is supposed to produce the card, which is connected to the factory’s electronic weighing system, whenever delivering tea at the various buying centres.

A receiving clerk will then swipe the card to capture and store data and then give the farmer a printed receipt, unlike previously where the document was handwritten opening a window for errors and theft.

“The use of a smart card in weighing tea leaves is very secure, we have managed to increase efficiency. We will be taking less time for the tea to get to the factory and process it within a short period of time,” said John Gitau, manager at Makomboki Tea Factory.

The card has been touted as a game-changer. “We will know the exact volume of tea that a farmer has delivered meaning we pay farmers for the exact amount they bring to the factory without overpaying or underpaying,” said Mr Gitau.

With the card, the agency said it will be able to safely collect, secure and transmit tea and track performance of all the 65 factories it manages.

KTDA also plans to use the smart card to notify farmers of fertiliser delivery. “The farmers can query their accounts at any time to find out about their deliveries and volumes on a daily and monthly basis,” said KTDA corporate communication manager Egadwa Mudoga.