By: Daily Nation
Small-scale farmers affiliated to the Kenya Tea Development Authority have lost more than Sh1.3 billion due to frost attacks.
The frost, which first occurred in December last year, destroyed several hectares of tea, subjecting farmers to heavy losses.
KTDA group head of corporate affairs Charles Kimathi said counties where small scale-scale farmers recorded heavy losses include Nandi, Kiambu, Murang’a and Nyeri.
Mr Kimathi said: “Tea yield is still low in regions such as Nandi, where tea factories at Chebut and Kaptumo suffered 30 per cent loss after frost. Kiambu, Muranga and Nyeri suffered 15 to 20 per cent frost attack.”
He said that KTDA had expected to receive 204 million kilogrammes of tea by March 31 but the crop suffered 10 per cent damage due to frost attacks. The affected tea bushes will take time to recover, he added.
At the same time, a number of KTDA factories that are surrounded by multinational tea companies in Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces are handling low volumes of tea due to frost attacks.
Sources told the Nation that factories most affected are those in Nandi, Bomet, Kericho and Nyamira counties, where farmers complained that their tea earnings had dropped by 50 per cent because of the prolonged January and February frost attacks.
KTDA has over 600,000 small-scale tea farmers in Kenya, with 64 factories that are owned by the growers.
Some 25,000 small-scale farmers in Nandi County have lost more than Sh500 million between last December and March 31.
The frost also destroyed hundreds of acres of tea on plantations owned by multinational companies in Rift Valley.
Ten multinational tea factories have been shut down because of the shortage of tea arising from the frost. This has led to massive job losses.
Elsewhere, hundreds of farmers on Sunday staged a protest against National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) officials at the Eldoret depot accusing them of corruption in the distribution of subsidised fertilisers.
The North Rift farmers claimed bribery and favouritism were rampant.
The farmers, who have been camping at the depot for the last three weeks, caused a stampede as they demanded to know the criteria used to distribute fertilisers.
In Western Kenya, farmers are considering reducing the acreage under maize and other key crops due to lack of DAP fertiliser that is applied during planting.
This comes as the rains pounded most parts of the region at the weekend, marking the beginning of the delayed planting season.
NCPB acting regional manager for Nyanza and Western provinces Roselyn Baraza said they were yet to receive supplies. She, however, assured farmers they would receive fertiliser as early as on Tuesday