An estimated 1,000 smallholder tea farmers have ditched multinationals for the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
The farmers have been enrolled back to the KTDA-managed Rororok Tea Factory from multinational tea factory companies in Bomet County.
They claim the move was motivated by the fact that KTDA offered better returns to small-scale farmers as compared to the multinationals.
According to the Rorok Tea factory manager, Gregory Marete, KTDA provides better returns and service to smallholder tea farmers as well as other important inputs such as cheaper fertilizer and extension services which has encouraged farmers who had left to come back.
“Despite coronavirus affecting business including the tea sector, we still maintain better services to farmers as compared to other companies. If you compared us and our competitors, KTDA tops in terms of payments to the small-scale tea farmers,” Marete said.
“Apart from better prices, we also support the farmers with other important incentives such as low-cost fertilizers. Farmers have realised this, a reason why more and more are coming back to us.,” he said.
Accounting for 60 per cent of tea production in Kenya , KTDA however enjoys economies of scale which come with benefits such as price and contract negotiations,which allows them to pay better than the rest of the market.
KTDA is owned by about 600,000 smallholder tea farmers spread across 16 tea growing counties in Kenya.
The farmers are shareholders to 54 tea companies that own KTDA Holdings and its eight subsidiary companies.