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Probe on after tea farmers allege theft by KTDA cartels

Thursday January 23 2020
Tea pickers

Workers pick tea at Kiang'ombe village in Kirinyaga County on September 26, 2019. Tea farmers in the county, as well as MP PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

By GEORGE MUNENE

A legislator claims cartels in the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are using faulty weighing machines to exploit farmers in Kirinyaga County.

Gichimu Githinji (Gichugu) said farmers lose earnings from a significant amount of tea since the machines do not show the correct weights.

Mr Githinji said the machines are adjusted such that each farmer loses 1.5kg of produce delivered at tea buying centres

"The machines are deliberately [being used] to steal from farmers," he said at Kamugunda market in his constituency, where he delivered 180 machine testing kits for the centres.

"This is unacceptable. This is corruption. It should be fought at whichever cost."

MANY CASES

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While noting that these cases are on the rise in the region, the MP vowed to protect farmers.

"Farmers complained to me, saying the machines had been tampered with. When I checked, I established their complaints were genuine. Cartels in the KTDA should be tamed," he said.

Mr James Maingi, a senior official from the county department of weights and measures, said machines used by the KTDA give wrong figures.

Mr Maingi said investigations were launched to expose the cartels

"Those found to be interfering with the machines will be arrested and prosecuted," he said, adding the cases were also common in Kisii but were stopped.

COMPENSATION

Mr Maingi promised farmers in Kirinyaga a solution.

The farmers thanked the MP for forwarding their complaints to the relevant county authority.

"We have suffered so much in the hands of the KTDA. Time has come for wrongdoers to be punished," one said.

The farmers demanded compensation for the losses they have incurred so far. 

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