A tea farmer has petitioned the Senate to draft a policy that will see the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) the national and the county governments compelled to insure tea farmers across the country with a National Health Insurance (NHIF) cover.
Mr John Githuka Kahari, who takes his green leaf tea to Kanyenyaini Tea Factory in Kangema, Murang’a County, has proposed that KTDA deducts Sh200 monthly from farmers’ bonuses while the factories will pay Sh250 for every farmer and either the county government or the national government pays the remaining Sh50 to make it Sh500.
In a petition received by the Senate on September 13, Mr Kahari notes that each farmer will be deducted Sh2,400 annually and the contributions by KTDA will add up to Sh3,000 annually while the government will contribute Sh600 to each of the 600000 tea farmers countrywide.
The petitioner proposes three ways to determine who between the county and the national government will pay the Sh50.
“The Senate should draft a model policy on social development pertaining to the health insurance scheme to be submitted in all the county governments, the National Treasury to introduce a supplementary budget to cater for the Sh360 million or Parliament, in consultation with the National Treasury, to introduce a conditional grant in the County Allocation of Revenue Act for the financial year 2019/2022 and other ensuing fiscal years.
Mr Kahari argues that most tea farmers wallow in poverty and cannot afford to pay for the NHIF cover despite being exposed to various diseases.
“Majority of the tea farmers rely on small scale farming with low returns which impedes them from accessing affordable and quality healthcare since majority of them can’t afford to contribute Sh500 to the NHIF resulting into a record high rate of fundraisers to foot their hospital bills,” the petition reads.
The petitioner notes that most tea farmers are hard hit by diseases like arthritis, respiratory and cardiovascular problems due to harsh weather conditions in tea growing areas as well as the nature of their work and the posture take while picking tea.
The petition proposes that the National Hospital Fund Board establishes an office and appoints an officer to administer the proposed programme to work closely with the county governments, KTDA and be giving a quarterly report to the Senate over the progress.
The Senate is expected to work on the petition within two months after submission.