Fairtrade faults government for prohibiting direct tea sales in recent reforms 

Fairtrade Africa has lauded efforts by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to initiate reforms in the tea sector.

The organisation however faulted the government on the newly imposed restriction that prohibits farmers from making direct sales to buyers and dictates that all teas produced in Kenya for the export market shall be sold exclusively through the auction process.

Bernard Muiruri, Fairtrade Africa member in charge of certified tea farmers in Kenya, speaking during a tour of Gatunguru Tea factory in Murang’a, said that although the organisation was in support of the reforms in the tea sector they had some reservations with some clauses.

“Fairtrade and by extension direct sale should not be prohibited as it is more beneficial to the farmers because no money is lost to brokers,” he said,

Fairtrade International is composed of producers, buyers and marketers and often visits members to establish how they use their premiums and assess any challenges they may be facing.

The chairman Gatunguru Tea factory, Mwangi Kaguma, explained that Fairtrade has been very beneficial to farmers and the local community because other than just buying the tea from the factory, it also gives a premium that the factory can use for development projects

“One of the major benefits we have received from Fairtrade is a gravity water system that we use at the factory,” Kaguma said, adding that they have also donated water storage tanks to local schools and dispensaries.

In addition to the water system, the factory has also acquired other assets such as vehicles used in the sale of tea.

Gatunguru Tea factory joined Fairtrade in 2016 and has since then received over Sh42 million in premiums.

The chairman also noted that it is important for the farmers to meet the certification requirement to ensure their produce maintains high standards.

“We have trained our farmers on how to pick the best tea from the farm, and on our part we ensure that we collect and process the tea on time.” Kaguma said

Gatunguru tea factory serves over 8300 registered farmers.



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