Farmers served by Kanyenyaini Tea Factory in Kangema, Murang’a County have petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the conduct the factory’s activities for a period of five years, alleging misappropriation of funds.
The Farmers want the commission to scrutinize all the costs incurred in the production of tea for the five years, authenticity of costs and tea prices and how borrowed money was used.
According to the petition dated October 12, 2018, the farmers want the proposed commission to compel the Kenya Tea Development Agency to explain why the farmers received low bonuses.
They also as well losses believed to have been accrued by the KTDA through Kanyenyaini Tea Factory investigated.
The petition signed by James Wambugu Gachunji, Moses Waithaka Kega and Arthur Meki Gitundu on behalf of farmers, states that upon completion of the enquiry in one month, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Director of Public Prosecutions should take up the matter and charge anyone found culpable.
“We are disillusioned by the manner in which we are exploited by the KTDA and, to be precise the board of directors of Kanyenyaini Tea Factory. We fear that the factory might have lost monies in hundreds of millions and we are waiting on you to save the poor,” the petition reads.
The tea growers decried the low bonus payments of Sh865 million by their tea factory, compared to Sh1.12 billion which they were paid last year.
As a result of the Sh263 million decrease, each farmer received a bonus of Sh37 per kilo of tea delivered.
The farmers say they are not satisfied with the explanation by KTDA attributing the decreased bonus to escalating costs of production and depressed prices, saying the agency had published information in the dailies that there could be an increase of Sh9.4 per kilo in this year’s bonus earnings.
“Surprisingly the KTDA indicated that there was an improved tea production in this year compared to the previous year. Kanyenyaini factory produced 3.762 million kilos of made tea or 17.8 million kilos of green leaf tea in the previous year and it is ironical to state that the production improved while that of the said factory declined, a move that would have guaranteed us more bonus,” the farmers said.
The farmers also want the President to dissolve the current board of directors and a new one constituted following the allegations.
In reaction, Mr Francis Macharia, the KTDA Board Member for Zone Two, said they are ready to be investigated, maintaining that their activities are above board.
“That petition has no merit, it won’t find anyone culpable. It is the farmers who decided to sell their tea to Ngorongo and they should know that there are after effects – low income low bonus,” Mr Macharia said.
He blamed the tea woes on his rival whom he accused of sponsoring farmers to write the petition and mudsling KTDA.