The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Holdings, has embarked on training small scale tea farmers in Kisii County on quality tea production and crop diversification in a bid to boost their income.
Speaking at Suguta village during a farmer’s field day, KTDA Foundation, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sudi Matara, stated that 500 tea farmers in the Nyamache Tea catchment area are set to benefit, saying it was an economic empowerment programme, that will be supporting groups.
“We have farmers’ field schools that have been going under training and we have over 1,000 farmers. We are going to select about 500 farmers who are going to be part of this programme for the next one and half years,” added Matara.
He noted that the training will focus on different value chains, including poultry farming, crops such as mushrooms, beekeeping, and other ventures in supporting farmers to be resilient.
The County Executive Committee (CEC) Member for Agriculture, Esman Onsarigo said that the training will benefit farmers by giving them financial skills, which will enable them to know how to save their income for future use.
“Farmers can save for tomorrow so that they can use it to pay school fees, buy food for their families, and start other agricultural ventures, which will expand their income. KTDA has managed to train our farmers not to rely on tea alone,” added Onsarigo.
He noted that farmers have started to see the fruits of tea reforms in the country and thanked the national government through the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, for facilitating the reforms that target to put money in the pockets of farmers.
KTDA National Board Member, Eric Chepkwony, encouraged the farmers to produce quality tea that can fetch high prices and urged them to continue with the training, so that they can ensure that reforms are beneficial to them.
Ezra Ombui, a tea farmer of Nyamache Tea Factory, pointed out tea harvesters, who pick more leaves than recommended to get more kilograms and money, as his major challenge, saying they always end up destroying his tea plants and he was going to show them how to harvest tea as required.
Janet Kwamboka, another farmer, said that they were going to get help from experts in controlling diseases that destroy tea plants by supplying them with recommended herbicides.
“We have been trained on how we are supposed to raise tea seedlings. A farmer selects healthy and vigorous cuttings from mother bushes for nursery propagation that have been left for 5-6 months after pruning. They should use only vigorous young shoots, to make cuttings at the top and bottom before planting,” expounded Kwamboka.