Tea farmers’ fears amid good prospects

Tea production is set to increase following the continued rains that are increasing green leaf production. There is even hope that the good fortune could continue during the expected dry spell.

However, farmers fear that the effects of the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a drop in monthly earnings and second-payment, commonly referred to as bonus.

“The lockdown in the importing countries in Europe and Asia, including the United Kingdom and Pakistan, could affect pricing,” said Mr John Tega, the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) director and chairman of Chebut and Kaptumo tea factories in Nandi County.

He added that the lockdown had depressed prices of made tea to as low as $1.9 per kilo in a recent Mombasa auction.

Meanwhile, players in the tea sector are embracing Covid-19 measures to ensure that the workforce on the farms and processing plants is kept safe from infection.

According to the KTDA director, firms are strictly observing Covid-19 guidelines, including social distancing, use of face masks, handwashing and sanitising to ensure that farmers and workers along the value chain are protected.

“Tea factory workers work in shifts. Because of the curfew and also to minimise on crowding, those working in factories are in two shifts – 6am to 5pm and 5pm to 6am,” said Mr Tega.

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