Latest Post

Daniel Otuto, Chairman, Nyansiongo Tea Factory
Daniel Otuto, current Chairman of Nyansiongo Tea Factory and aspirant in tomorrow’s elections. He has disputed propaganda by former directors who are vying for the positions with ill intentions. Photo/Arnold Ageta


By Arnold Ageta

As the tea factory election campaigns come to a close today, candidates have put in their best effort to clinch the seats ahead of Friday’s elections in various tea factories and tea buying centres.

The current directors have faced several hurdles since the campaigns started, as former directors ganged up against them.

Former directors who were pushed out of office by the government in 2020, after the enactment of the new Tea Act, 2020, consider the current directors as government projects, while farmers see them as saviors.

Most farmers expressed their dissatisfaction with the former directors, who they say invested their money in buying land that is not beneficial to them, leading to lower payments to farmers.

The farmers also accuse them of taking the government to court, leading to accumulations of millions of legal fees which the factories are struggling to pay, at the expense of farmers.

Daniel Otuto, the current chairman of the board of directors of Nyansiongo tea factory, faced a fierce battle with his opponent, who also served as a director before being excluded in 2020 when the new law came into effect, barring them from the elections.

“Before and after being cleared to vie for these elections, my opponent has given me tough times as he tried to lock me out of the race,” Otuto regretted. “He has lodged several complaints about my candidature but I thank God all those have been thrashed and I succeeded in running for this position.”

In a move that he suspects to be a rigging game, Otuto disputed the circulating propaganda from his opponent that the votes will be tallied at Nyansiongo Tea Factory when actually the exercise will be done at the polling stations. He warned those spreading the propaganda that it will not bear fruit because he is vigilant for any foul play in the elections.

Otuto enjoys support from farmers who have developed confidence in him for the good services he has offered them for the past three years.

Elizabeth Moraa from Ebate tea buying centre said that Otuto has served them well and they are ready to vote for him for the second term.

“Otuto has, in the forthcoming tea bonus payment, ensured we will be paid more than what we were paid last year. We are also looking forward to an increment in monthly payment because we have confidence in him as the chair of Nyansiongo tea factory,” said Elizabeth.

Like Elizabeth, Harrison Sure from Enchoro said that the propaganda being peddled by his opponents will not prevent them from winning the elections because his services to farmers speak for themselves.

“For the past three years, farmers have had the best for their tea because there has been a consistent increase in payment and we have hope that more will be realized if we support him,” he affirmed.

Farmers, with one voice, are calling on fellow farmers from other factories not to elect those directors who were sent home by the new Act.

Isaac Ondieki, the chairman of Ebate tea buying centre, has urged farmers not to fall into the tricks of the former directors who misused farmers’ funds for their own benefit.

“I beg you, farmers, do not vote for the former directors who want to take up power so that they can come to take farmers’ money to pay lawyers who offered services to them as individuals,” he warned.

Otuto is hailed for the improved service delivery at Nyansiongo, making it the leader in farmers’ payment in Nyamira County. He says in West Mugirango, despite the battles, he managed to register 2300 new farmers.

Otuto prides himself on the establishment of several buying centres which have reduced spoilage of tea at the buying centres, thus increasing the quantity and quality of tea produced at Nyansiongo Tea Factory.

“We are currently at 25 million kilograms halfway through the year, compared to 2020 when we had a total of 25 million kilograms of tea for the entire year. Therefore, we may close the year with more than 27 million kilos,” he announced.

Thomas Ogato, an aspiring director from Miriri Zone, Tombe Tea Factory. Photo/Courtesy

In the neighboring Tombe tea factory, similar sentiments were raised against the former directors who farmers termed as greedy and selfish.

Farmers have vowed not to vote for them to safeguard the increment of tea payment, saying they do not want to return to the time when their bonus was paid at KES. 7 per kilo, an experience which saw many abandon tea farming for other crops. Currently, they are being paid KES. 24 per kilo, and they do not want to see the former directors back in office.

The current director at Tombe tea factory and aspirant, Tom Ogato, has promised to continue serving the farmers diligently.

Addressing the farmers while closing his campaigns yesterday at Miriri, Ogato confirmed that when he took up the position at Tombe tea factory, many farmers had uprooted tea and replaced it with trees and other crops.

“Many farmers had abandoned selling their tea to our factory and instead sold it to other factories (soko huru) which used to pay far above the factory prices,” he reminded them. “I want to ask you, is soko huru still operational here?”

Good payment to farmers pushed soko huru out of their territory because tea hawking had made farmers poor to the extent of straining and struggling to pay school fees for their children.

“I sat down with other directors and crafted a business strategy that revamped our services and payment rates,” he told the farmers.

His idea, he said, changed the mindset of other directors who started looking at tea farming as a serious business that needs to be profitable and beneficial to the farmer.

Ogato also helped restore farmer-tea clerk relations which had deteriorated in the past, affecting farmers’ confidence in the factory.

As compared to Nyansiongo tea factory, Tombe has hit a record of 20 million kilos, which the factory had never recorded in the past.

“When we assumed office, Tombe tea factory’s highest capacity was 13 million kilos, but we managed to achieve an increment of 7 million kilos, equivalent to opening a new factory,” he announced.

“We have achieved so much through the reforms that put us in office after the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Peter Munya, who was the cabinet secretary for Agriculture.

“The reforms helped us to increase the bonus from KES. 7 to KES. 31.50 and we are looking forward to better payments in the future,” said Ogato.

He, too, warned farmers to be vigilant against the propaganda of former directors who are vying for the positions with ill intentions to steal from the farmers.

The elections, which will be conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC), will be held this Friday.

To vote, farmers are required to carry with them national identification cards and any 2024 farmer pay slip.

Polls will open from 9 am to 3 pm. Those who are not in the voting queue by 3 pm will not be allowed to vote.

Votes will be counted and tallied at the polling centres and later taken to respective tea factories for tally confirmation and announcement of winners before the presentation of certificates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *