Tea Farmers to Get Special Hospital for Chronic Diseases

By Jane Muia / Published June 21, 2022 | 12:51 pm




KEY POINTS

Tea farmers have been said to have been hit hard by non-communicable diseases resulting in reduced yields. The ailments have been attributed to the harsh cold weather farmers are exposed to during the planting and harvesting of the tea.  


Tea Farmers

KEY TAKEAWAYS


Tea farming is critical in Kenya as it supports over 6 million Kenyans directly and indirectly. Despite the sector’s importance, various challenges continue to affect its performance. These challenges include pests and diseases, lack of reliable labor, delayed payments and high cost of farm inputs and production, resulting in reduced earnings.


It will be a relief for Kenyan tea farmers as Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) step up to establish a special hospital for the farmers, a move aimed at curbing surging cases of chronic diseases among tea farmers.

Tea farmers have been said to have been hit hard by non-communicable diseases resulting in reduced yields. The ailments have been attributed to the harsh cold weather farmers are exposed to during the planting and harvesting of the tea.

Farmers end up suffering due to inability to afford proper treatment due to the high cost of treating chronic disease.

“Streamlining the medical scheme and establishing a health facility is one of the plans we have put in place to restore the health of the farmers. Many of our members have continued to suffer as they cannot afford sufficient funds to seek proper treatment due to the expensive cost of treating chronic diseases,’’ KTDA Zone 5 board member John Mithamo said.

Tea farming is critical in Kenya as it supports over 6 million Kenyans directly and indirectly. Despite the sector’s importance, various challenges continue to affect its performance. These challenges include pests and diseases, lack of reliable labor, delayed payments and high cost of farm inputs and production, resulting in reduced earnings.

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For instance, payment to the smallholder tea growers through the factories managed by KTDA declined from 58.76 shillings Per Kg of Greenleaf in 2016/17 to 36.64 per Kg in 2019/20.

To curb this, the government has initiated Some reforms to ensure increased production as well as ensuring farmers benefit from their hard work.

To mitigate against declining earnings by the smallholder tea growers, the minimum reserve price of $2.43 (275 shillings) per kilogram was set in July 2021 at the Mombasa tea auction. This saw the average tea prices for the smallholder teas record a 40 percent increase at the auction from an average of 1.90 USD/Kg to USD 2.66 in September 2021. According to data by the Ministry of Agriculture, this resulted in an increase in revenue for the tea smallholder grower by 172 million shillings within one month.

In cases regarding delayed payments, the Tea Act 2020 required all tea factories to pay at least 50 percent of payments due for green leaf delivered every month within 30 days of receipt of the proceeds of the sale of tea and the balance within three months from the end of the financial year.

KTDA enhanced the initial green leaf monthly payments to the smallholder tea growers in July 2021 from 17 shillings to 21 shillings per kilogram.






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