The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) will use trains to transport tea from upcountry to the Mombasa auction as part of ongoing cost-cutting measures.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary said use of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to transport the key commodity will begin November 1 this year to enable the agency to save money and plough it back into paying small-scale tea farmers who are reeling from losses.
“The cost of transporting made tea from factories to Mombasa is very high and we have directed KTDA to start using SGR in the next one month. We must put in place measures that will ensure tea farmers earn more that they are getting now,” said Mr Munya on Friday.
Trucking companies contracted to transport tea to Mombasa have over the years been accused of engaging in the tea business, thus creating conflict of interest.
Even with the new measures implemented under the Tea Act 2020, factories will still have to use trucks to transport tea to Nairobi for onward ferrying to Mombasa through the railway line.
As part of the reforms, small-scale growers will be paid for their supplies no later than the third day of every month.
“There have been complaints from across the country that farmers have to wait until 24th of every month to receive their pay, yet multinationals pay their growers earlier,” said Mr Munya who was speaking during a tour of Kapkatet and Litein tea factories in Kericho County.
Late payment by KTDA has led to farmers hawking their tea in order to meet their financial needs.
Poor pay to tea farmers has prevailed over the years despite the commodity being one of Kenya's top foreign exchange earners.