The Government has disbursed KES 442.31mn fertilizer subsidy to small scale tea farmers under the management of Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to cushion them from the high costs of farm inputs.
The tea farmers will receive a KES 321.35 rebate on each bag of fertilizer supplied under the KTDA fertilizer credit scheme.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei launched the subsidy scheme at Kambaa Tea Factory in Kiambu County, where he appealed to tea farmers to diversify their businesses beyond tea.
“Let us not be emotional and threaten to uproot the tea we have invested so much energy and time to grow simply because of low tea prices in one year. If prices shoot up and you have uprooted your crop what will you do?” he paused.
Mr. Koskei said tea auction prices were on the rise and coupled with the measures the Government plans to implement such as the setting up of the stabilization fund and fertilizer subsidy, farmers should be able to profit from the crop.
He asked tea farmers against over reliance on one income source as it was bound to strain their income and advised them to diversify to other income generating activities like rearing livestock among others so as to realize better profit margins.
“Farmers must consider diversification, so as to have multiple income sources. In so doing, they will be able to remain financially stable even when tea prices are not doing so well,” said Mr. Koskei.
He said the tea industry has over the last three years seen a decline in tea prices, high labour costs and farm inputs, which have left farmers heavily overburdened.
The CS assured tea farmers that the Government was making a deliberate effort to work with various stakeholders in the industry including KTDA to improve the situation as agriculture remained the backbone of the economy.
KTDA Chairman Peter Kanyago said the organisation was working with the Government to identify other markets in Asia, America and the rest of Africa to sell Kenyan teas.