KTDA polls will only entrench status quo, Meru tea farmers say

A farmer picking tea in Meru.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • But KTDA Zone Seven Director Paul Ringera said they are ready for the elections.
  • Some farmers indicated that most of the directors within Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties will be elected unopposed.
  • Mr Munya has come up with a raft of regulations that seek to reduce the number of factory directors from nine to three.

Tea farmers in Meru County have expressed their frustrations with the forthcoming elections of factory directors after notices were sent out indicating that the polls will be held on November 3.

This come after the High Court gave the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) the greenlight to conduct the elections.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has come up with a raft of regulations that seek to reduce the number of factory directors from nine to three as well as stop KTDA from conducting elections.

But last week, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) and the ministry lost a case they had filed seeking to stop the polls until guidelines for the same are published.

“We are disappointed because the rules will be the same ones we have opposed over the years. The winner will be chosen not based on the one-man-one vote but on the number of shares they have,” said Mr Gideon Mutwiri, a farmer from Kathera in Imenti South.

Farmers not well represented

He said with in current state of affairs, farmers will not be represented in the vote since those with most shares are the ones who will manipulate them.

But KTDA Zone Seven Director Paul Ringera said they are ready for the elections.

“The court has given us the go ahead and we have sent out the notices. Farmers are the owners of the factories and (they) will conduct their own elections without interference,” Mr Ringera said in a phone interview.

However, even as KTDA was preparing for the elections, some farmers indicated that most of the directors within Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties will be elected unopposed.

“Let them conduct the elections but the result has already been decided. If it is a matter of the number of shares one has, then we know we cannot beat them since the current directors will sail through unopposed,” said a farmer from Githongo in Imenti Central.

On reducing the number of directors from nine to three, Kenya Smallholder Tea Growers Association (Kestega) National Chairman John Nteere said farmers should be empowered on how to go about the rule.

“Despite the fact that farmers are the owners of the factories, they are not aware if they can make the changes. The ministry should sensitise farmers on how they can institute changes in their factories without engaging in illegalities,” Mr Nteere said.