Category Archives: Tea


Industrial feature By Leo Odera Omolo

It is indeed encouraging that the government of Kenya welcomes and encourage both foreign and local investors wiling to invest their money in the agro – based and manufacturing sectors, therefore the time is ripe for the government to set up certain conditions which must be met by the investors willing to invest their money in this country. The time is ripe for the government to set up certain conditions and terms conducive to employment regulations and rules before their investments kick off.

As for now, the multinational Tea companies operating in Kericho and Nandi Hills regions are the ones which have set up good examples by way of making sure that senior management positions are in the hands highly skilled and semi skilled in indigenous Kenya Africans.

The British multinational tea manufacturing companies, like the uniliver (formerly Brooke Band Tea) in Kericho, and the Finlays tea and Flowers in Kericho, and the Finlays tea and Flowers, also operating in Kericho and bomet counties have engaged the highly trained local personnel . The two terms even have promoted to high and middle management positions, some of them trained on-the-jobs.

The same could be said of Eastern Province tea company which own chains of tea plantations and processing factories in Nandi Hills, Kericho and Sotik Highland and Kibabet tea companies in Sotik region of Kericho county.

In most of the above multinational tea companies nearly all the top managers, engineers, doctors, Chief Accountants, Financial Directors positions, are held by indigenous Africans with the exception of the positions involving foreigners who are specilaized on highly technical work.

These British multinational tea Multinational companies had introduced a crush training program immediately after Kenya attained political independence in 1963. They embarked in phasing out foreign expatriate managers, technician artisans. The two expatriate who stayed on their jobs were compelled to train Africans to understudy the expatriate previously employed on lucrative and plum jobs and replaced Them with the local personnel.

What is happening in the tea industry is reflecting the true picture of job creation in a country like kenya where unemployment situation has reached as alarming proportion. It has at large become the source of rising crime waves. The government policy on job creation and employment regulation in Kenya not exceptional. This is something which is happening every where on the globe.

Certain conditions must be set up for the purpose of scrutinizing rogue investors who discriminate and enslave the locals in their establishment.

In this context, I am referring to the pathetic employment conditions in the sugar mills especially where he investors use local African workers like slaves, petty casuals without approximant letters and term and conditions of services etc.

I have in mind the five sugar companies owned by Indian investors.

To be specific and more clear ,the sugar companies owned by Indians include West Kenya and Butali sugar companies which are based in kakamega county ,while Sukari industries is located in Homa – Bay County , Kibos sugar and Allied industries based in Kisumu county and the latest is the Trans – mara sugar company based in Narok County Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries is situated in Kisumu County with the latest and the newest sugar mill being the Trans-Mara sugar Company in NAROK county

In all the five sugar mills the investors have embarked in engaging foreign expatriate workers with impunity. The Investors in the sugar mills have engaged the largest number of expatriates workers to the chagrins of locals. These expatriate workers, most of them imported from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, are semi-illiterate. Expatriate workers from India. Pakistan and Bangladesh are the ones who are running petty jobs such as time-keeper, junior clerks, cane yard clerks and top jobs from the top and down to messenger and … even cooks for making Indian dishes for the top Indian top managers

The whole set up looked like the modern day apartheid racial segregation in an independent Kenya .some of the positions held by the expartriates involved simple clerical jobs which the forum four school learners cam even perform better than semi-literate expatriates.

African workers are kept in the periphery. While working only as subordinate and manual workers, but with no letter of appointment. In the case of those local comparison to what their expatriate counterparts earns, some of the mills produced negligible tons of sugar per day but have employed close to 200 expatriates compare with the Mumias ugar company which turns the highest amounts of sugar per day, is the highest in the country, at 96000 tons per day . But the mill is managed exclusively and efficiently by the local African Manager from the top to the down trodden office messengers and sweepers

Since the terms of its former contracted management of Booker Agricultural international expired two decades ago and the expatriate left the have turned the company around from the the profit losses to a vibrant facility that is a profit making it rather shameful for Kenya, a country which has been independent for 50 years and has trained and truned out thousands of highly skilled personnel, to make the dumping for illiterate and oldest Indian workers who cannot be employed even in their own country .These undesirable Indian expatriate workers have flooded our sugar sub sector of the economy.

The majority of Indian expatriate workers were told they cannot be subjected to the mandatory safety deduction such as NSSF al NHIF as are allowed to export their package back home to their families .Why should the key a government allow the kind of modern day slavery where in citizens are being subjected to discrimination on few opportunities that are available.



Writes Leo Odera Omolo.

DISCONTENT has arisen in DISCONTENT the three highly agriculturally productive regions in Western Kenya following claims and allegations that the tax regime and the KRA have unrealistic increase the highest percentage of VAT charged on farm inputs and implements.

Previously farm inputs did not attract any taxation. Exempted from paying duties included trucks, tractors,and all the equipments used in farming.

However, according to the VAT Act, which was recently enacted by parliament, all these machineries now attract tax of 16 per cent, making them inaccessible to the farmers.

At the same time the Vat taxation system, it is being alleged, has exempted equipments used in the building construction industry.. Analysts say the construction work is only booming in Central Province and in the capital, Nairobi.

The players in the agriculture sector see some elements of discriminative taxation by the tax regime, which is deliberately and systematically targeting the communities living in the three Agriculturally rich Western Kenya region consisting of the Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western Provinces

Members of parliament representing the various electoral constituencies, which are close to maize producing, sugar cane growing and other areas with high insensitivity of farming have been asked to come out of their slumber .They should introduce motions in both Parliament and in the Senate challenging this discriminative taxation,” said one key player in the agricultural sector who requested for his identity to be kept secret for fear of possible reprisal.

The highly mechanized sugar industry is the hardest hit. There are so many prohibitive taxes charged such as ncess. “If the situation remain unaddressed for long, then Kenya will not be able To beat the COMESA deadline, “hr added.

A visit by this writer in the farming regions 0f Trans-Nzioia, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kisumu, Kericho and Trans-Mara region revealed that due to heavy VAT taxation now imposed on tractors and other farm inputs farmers can no longer afford to purchase new tractors and other farm implements owing to the skyrocketing prices..

VAT charges have also affected the sales of spare parts. One key player in the sugar industry6 asserted that may be there is a cartel of top government officials working in cohorts with the sugar barons to facilitate the importation of the same commodity so that they in turn could make a kill.. MPS should demand an explanation as to whether the high VAT taxation has any elements of political undertone aimed at the economic strangulation against the communities living 8in the agricultural productive regions in Western Kenya..

If It is true, as it is being alleged, that there is a cartel among the government officials collaborating with the sugar barons with the intent of creating artificial shortage of sugar in the country for their own selfish interests then the sooner such groups would be kicked out of Treasury and the KRA the better. It is sad that such people who are out to impoverish members of the farming fraternity.

The tea industry is another sector which is highly mechanized, which is also suffering from the effect of the heavy VAT taxation system.,

The government should set up a parliamentary committee to investigate allegations about unnecessarly high taxation imposed through Vat so that it could protect the farming community. Unless something positively is done to streamline the excesses in Vat taxation the country could in the near future experience acute shortage food grains.

Companies dealing in the sales of farm inputs have also reported sharp decline in business, which has seen the sales going down with huge percentage .No inquiries about the sales of new tractors, trucks and pick-ups are forthcoming, said one dealer in Eldoret, adding that the government need to move much faster and have the VAT btaxati9n rectified.

Sugar cane is grown in abundance in Western and Nyanza Provinces, whereas maize, wheat, barly is produced in the South Rift region of Narok County and some parts of Uasin Gishu, Tea is grown and produce in the North Rift regions of Nandi and also in the South Rift counties of Kericho, Bomet and also in parts of Trans-Mara.

Other areas where farming is thriving in the ift alley included Nakuru, Molo, Kuresoi,Naivasha, Gilgil, Subukia, Rongai and Molo.



News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo In Kericho Town

The British multinational tea companies operating in Kericho and Bomet Counties in the Republic of Kenya whose 99 land lease has already expired should not be pushed out of their property, but they should be compelled to donate several hundreds of acres back to the community for the use in establishing essential public utilities projects.

Owing to the fact that the land in the rural locations in the two counties has become too congested and over populated, there are no space for the establishment of important public utilities such as hospitals and universities as well as other institutions of higher learning, therefore some parts of the land on which the tea plantations and factories stand on should revert to the community which were the original owners of the land.

These were the sentiments expressed by a prominent Kericho politician William Kepkemoi Arap Kettienya who reminded the multinational tea companies land that was forcefully seized from its original owners by the colonialists at the turn of the 20th century. Its lease has since expired but the locals live in densely populated rural community reserve land which can no longer be used in establishing socio economic projects such as hospitals and universities, which requires hundreds of acres of land space.

Kericho and Bomet housed more than 45 large tea estates and over 30 tea green leaves processing factories employing over 40,000 work force.

Keiitanya was reacting to a newspaper report which quoted leaders and politicians in the neighboring Nandi County who had called on tea farms whose land lease have expired to return the parcel to the original owners of the land and at the same time restore it to its form it had when the land was taken by force by the colonial authorities and distributed to the white settlers for tea plantation.

There are more than 30 large scale tea plantations for processing factories operating in both North and south Nandi. Key county leaders were amplifying what the Mps from the region had demanded.

Like in Kericho, Bomet counties, the tea farms operating in the region are owned by the British farms and individuals.

The Mps want the ownership of potrate of land used by British multi national companies reverted to the community. However, the leaders of Nandi county are not advancing the proposal that the land be sub-divided, hut will hold them in trust on behalf of the community.

The Nandi county leaders under the governor Cleophas Lagat is in total agreement with the Mps on the contentive issues is now backing the proposal hailed by the Mps and senator Stephen sang, Mrs. Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Nandi women rep. Zipora Kurgat , Alex Kosgei (bumugwen), Julias Meli (tindieret), Julius bitok (mosop) lejah lagat(ge) and Oscar sudi.

According to Mr. sang, their man is to give legal community ownership of land and not necessarily to interfere with the manners and the management of the tea firms

‘’we would like to make it clear that we are not trying to stage the kind of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe style of farm takeover Of more companies, but rather empower the local community ownership and not necessarily interfere with owners and management of tea companies, but rather empower the local to be held in trust by the county government”.

There are more than 20 tea estates and factories in the Nandi Hills sub-county of the Nandi county, situated in the western part of the Rift valley.

The companies include George William’s and Eastern province of Kenya, Kepchono, kapchorwa, Koisagat, Sivet, kirkarus ,Nandi Hills Tea Company and others. These companies have employed up to 350000 workers directly and indirectly.

The issues surrounding the lease of the land on which tea estate and factories stand. On has remained the thorniest issue ever since 1996, When some leaders in Kericho and Bomet demanded that the land should revert to its original owners.

Thousands of rural communities previously occupying the land were forcefully removed from their property at gun point and consigned to to drought strickened and unproductive areas at the tune of the 20 century to pave the way for the introduction of tea bushes in the region which began in the early 1910 and 1922.

Some of the British multinational tea companies at one time were forced to disclose that their property land leased was not for the 99 years, but for the 999 years. This stunned and those advocating for the land to revert to its original owners/ The Kenya government made no comment on these claims.

Major tea companies operating in Kericho and Bomet Counties include james Finlays a Scotish firm, which is also of late involved in the production of cut fliers for reports. There are also other firms owned by individuals and companies in the region. They bringing the employment of the labour force in the regions to a total of about 40,000

However, the recent introduction of mechanized tea plucking machines saw a large number o0f workers being declared redundant and sent home. This has reduced the number of workers in the tea company drastically almost by half.


Kenya: heavy rains wreak havoc in many parts of Kenya and left 10,000 people homeless

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

MORE than 10,000 people have been displaced and 40 killed as heavy rains wreak havoc across the full length and with of the country leaving the trails of deaths.

Property and crops worth millions of shilling have been destroyed, and the government has confirmed that some people were still missing while close to 50 people have been injured in various parts of the country.

In the Nandi Hills region hundred of acres of tea farms have been destroyed by hailstorm. Before the arrival of the long rains, the tea plantations in this particular region had suffered heavy damages inflicted by frost.

By yesterday both small and large scale tea farmers in the Nandi Hills area were still counting their losses, which experts says would runs into million o shillings.

Nandi Hills is one of the regions in Western Kenya where tea is grown in abundance. With close to ten large scale tea plantations and eight green tea leaves processing factories, the region is only second to Kericho and Bomet Counties in tea production.

The chairman of the small scale growers and empowerment project Wilson Tuwei told this writer hat the rain come at a time when farmers are starting to recover from the devastating effect of the frost bite destroyed that destroyed thousands of acres a month ago.

He added that the weather has dealt a major blow to the crop, one of the leading Kenya’s exports. Tea plantations in area like Nandi Hills, Kericho, Bomet and Sotik are threatened.

Heavy rains that re pounding moist parts of the country have caused the river’s water to rise between 2.8 and 3.2 meter raising fear among the residents of the flood prone regions that further swells in the water levels might overwhelm the dikes built by the government as the protective measures.

Four Kenyans have died as the result of lightning striking their homes during the late afternoon heavy downpour, while several rivers have burst their banks and flooded large areas and villages forcing the residents to flee their homes, most of which are submerged in the waters.

The rains have sent many people fleeing their submerged homes in the floods prone areas of Budalangi in Busia,Nyatike, Gwassi in Suba South district, Rangwe, Nyakach, Nyando and Kisumu.

The Western Provincial Commissioner Samuel Kilele on Wednesday held an emergency meeting with humanitarian agencies and other stakeholders in the region to discuss how to mitigate the effect of the possible flooding.

The P.C. disclosed that the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Special Programs has already bought and stocked it at the local stores of the National Cereal an Produce Board {NCPB} for emergency supplies to those who are at risk of being affected the floods.

The Permanent Secretary n the Ministry Andrew Mondo has appealed to Kenyans in floods prone regions and villages to move to the higher ground. He directed has appeal specifically to the residents of Budalangi, Kano Plains, Turkana, the capital city of Nairobi and its environs, Pokot,Baringo, Nyatike, Suba,Wareng,and the coastal Strip.

The flash floods, this time around has affected some areas which hitherto were previously considered to be safe. The areas include Teso North where 20 houses were destroyed and 15 cows swept away.

The flash flood waters have destroyed food crops in Marakwet district in the north Rift and for the second time in less than a week Narok town in the South Rift experienced the worse flood.

The incessant heavy rains have had adverse effect on tourist spots within Narok County. It has washed away many bridges on rural access roads and cut many places by way of damaging roads.


A bridge linking Sondu and Ahero towns on the main Kisii –Kisumu road has been washed away forcing motorist heading to Kisumu from Kisii to divert to Kapsoit junction and then drove toward Awasi- Kisumu, which is consuming a lot of time.



News Analysis Leo Odera Omolo In Kericho Town.

FOLLOWING the recent ousting of Uhuru Kenyatta as the national chairman of the Kenya African National Union {KANU} the appointment of its interim officials and its planned revitalization politics of the South Rift regions is likely to take new dimension.

The vote’s rich region of the Rift Valley Province will be voting for close to sixteen members of Parliament following the recent realignment of the various constituencies and the creation of close to five new ones.

It is being estimated after the next voters registration exercise, the South Rift could register close to 2 million or slightly more voters as the result of the inclusion in the voter rolls of youths who have attained the ages of 18 years and issued with the new generation identity cards.

However, more attention will be focused on politics of the Kipsigis land, an area where three major political parties will be competing for close to 1.8 million votes in eleven parliamentary electoral areas.

The Kapsigis land has been blessed with three additional parliamentary Commission {IEBC], which were hived out of Kipkellion, Belgut and Bomet. The three additional sets were added on top of the existing eight sets bringing total parliamentary representations in the Kipsigisland to eleven.

The Kipsigis sub-tribe of the most populous sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjin ethnic groups occupies the two most populous Counties of Kericho and Bomet.

The constituencies include Kipkellion East, Kipkellion West, Belgut, Sigowet, Konoin, Buret, Sotik, Chepalungu, Bomet East and Bomet West.

Members of the Kipsigis community, however have extended the stakes in several neighbouring districts, and constituencies in Kuresoi East, Kuresoi West, Kilgoris, Rongai, Subukia, Narok South, Narok West and Molo.

As the result of mutual mistrust between the Kipsigis and their cousins in the North Rift, particularly the Nandis, Keiyos and Tugen, the recently formed United Republican Party of Kenya {URP}, which the Eldoret North MP William Ruto has declared that he will use as his vehicle to the State House, the re surging KANU influence in Kipsigisland could derail Ruto’s presidential ambition.

Moreover the influence and popularity of the Orange Democratic Movement {ODM} has yet to be fizzled out in the region. The party leader Raila Odinga, who is also the Prime Minister of Kenya still enjoys enormous backing and support of the Kipsigis people therefore anyone dismissing the party as “finished” in the region is not telling Kenyans the truth.

URP could have overtaken the ODM, but its leader William Ruto made two major blunders and several tactical errors.

Ruto is credited to have sponsored the move which saw the coup which ousted the former United Democratic Movement {UDM}, Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Vice Commander of all the combined armed forces of Kenya Lt.Gen.John Arap Koech a highly respected and an influential Kipsigis man. He replaced Koech with the former national chairman of the Kenya National Union of Teachers Joseph Chirchir a fellow Kipisigs from Buret s .

Grieved Gen. Koech resisted the take over and moved to court. But while the matter was still being handled by the Court, the same Ruto having assumed that he had already bagged the Kipsigis in his safe basket, felt it was time to bring the Maasais on board and brought in the former Speaker of the National Assembly Francis ole Kaparo whom he made the interim chairman of the UDM and kicked Chirchir out, though the latter resisted the move an action which caused a serious split in the party hierarchy.

Ruto’s supporters within the Kipsigis community whose numbers were swelling up day by day started dwindling. His popularity in the South Rift took a nose dive. Members of this ultra conservative saw the Eldoret North MP as someone who is pursuing the old Daniel Moi’s policy of “use and dump”.

During his twenty years long rein of power the retired President Daniel Arap Moi used several political elites in Kipsigisland and dumped them mysteriously after using them against each other.

The retired President made sue that none of the Kipsigis politician during each and every general election before they matured up and gained national recognition. Those used by Moi and dumped include the ate Alexander Bii who was pitted against Moi’s contemporary the late Dr Taaitta Araap Toweett in the voluntarily resigned and insisted in seeking for fresh mandate from the electorate voters who had voted for him in 1963 on a KADU ticket..

Toweett recaptured the Buret seat in 1969,but was later removed to pave the way for Moi’s newly fond friend in Prof.Jonathan Ngulolu Arap Ng’eno. In 1978. Another man used to eliminate other Kipsigis leaders the mightier Kipkalia Kones.

This stigma of use and dump is still very fresh in the mind and hearts of the Kipsigis people, making them suspicious of their cousin from the North. The community had run into difficulties with Moi when thy sought for his assistance so that they could buy an acquire some of the foreign owned tea plantations and factories in the region.

Instead of getting the assistance from Moi, the latter is alleged to have acquired some of the firms for himself and his families. The farms include Kaisugu Limited now owned by Moi’s family. Mau Forest Tea Estate and Factory was also acquired by Moi, but after the dismantling of its tea processing machineries, which were later reinstalled at his own Kiptagich Tea Factory in Kuresoi, the former President handed the 920 acres bear tea estate minus its processing plant to his former errand boy and roving ambassador, the former nominated MP Mark Too, who later sold the farm at an exorbitant price in excess of Kshs 270 million to a group of Kipsigis farmers and traders numbering about 43,000 shareholders under the business flagship Yasang’wan Company Limited.

Moi and some of his closest friends from the North Rift also allegedly acquired stakes at the Kipkebe Tea Estate and factory in Sotik and also in the Sotik Highland Tea Company. The two firms are located in Bureti district, while Kaisugu Limited and Mau Forest tea companies are in Kericho district.

The Kipsigis felt the Moi’s KANU regime had favored their cousins fro the three sub-tribes in the north, namely the Keiyos, Tugens and the Nandis at the expense of the close to 9 other sub-tribes that forms the larger Kalenjin community. And that the Northerners had not only marginalized the Kipsigis politically, but also economically.

Endowed with an area with the highly fertile highlands, which produces close to 60 per cent of tea, and arguably advantaged with men and omen with highest education, the Kipsigis people have stretched their influence to the neighboring districts due to their lust for land and settlement.

The present Kuresoi constituency is represented by Zakayo K. Cheruiyot the former powerful PS in-charge of Internal Security and Provincial Administration. Kuresoi has received extra additional parliamentary constituency and will now be represented in the next parliament by two MPs.

A member of the Kipsigis community can easily bag the Kilgoris seat in the neighboring Tans-Mara district due to the its massive settlement in the region which started in 1961 and has since brought their voters strength almost at par with those of the indigenous Maasai people at 50-50.

Many Kipsigis people have settled in both Narok West and Narok South constituency where they have the swing votes. The same could be said of Rongai and Subukia as well Molo constituencies in Nakuru.Since independence in 1963, many Kipsigis people moved out of the region, bought farms and settled in other areas like Koibatek, Cheranganyi, Nandi Hills, Tans-Nzoia, Laikipia and Nandi North

In comparison with other Kalenjin ethnic groups, the Kipsigis are arguably much more wealthier due to tea excessive farming and also favorable trades with their neighbors in milk, vegetables, maize and other foodstuff, Due to he presence of larger number of workers in he tea plantations and factories, the circulation of money in the two Counties of Bomet and Kericho is the highest. This ha reduced the poverty index n the region drastically.

The political history of this region is that the Kipsigis people have been supportive to KANU ever since the dissolution of KADU in 1965. But the community charged its political allegiance to KANU drastically in 2002after the retired President Daniel Moi had anointed Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor.

However, not all of them had ditched and abandoned KANU. But in 2007 the community voted for ODM and its presidential aspirant Raila Odinga on man-to-man basis returning all eight of its MPs on ODM ticket.

Two people were credited for having succeeded in vigorously campaigning and persuading the Kipsigis to abandon KANU altogether and voted for ODM. These were the late Kipkalia Kones, and the Lt.Gen {rtd} John Arap Koech.

But things did not work well immediately soon after the appointment of the ODM members in the coalition government cabinet. Some of the MP of the Kipsigis region disapproved the appointment of three Nandis – all fro the North Rift, whereas the majority Kipsigis people who gave the ODM close to 1.2 million voters ended up with only one cabinet slot.

Arithmetically, the ODM had harvested close to 900,000 voters in both Kericho and Bomet Counties, whereas the combined votes garnered by the party in the entire Nandi region was less than.240,000 But the party had taken into consideration the seniority in the party ranks. Henry Kosgei, the Tinderet MP is the national chairman of the party, while William Ruto, the MP for Eldoret North happen to be the Second Deputy party leader, and as such there was no way the Prime minister Raila Odinga could have left them out of the cabinet.

The most outspoken MP was the former Minister in the Moi regime Isack Ruto the Chepalungu MP who took Raila Odinga head-on accusing him of having short-changed his community in the cabinet appointments. Coincidentally, the thorny issue of evicting the illegal squatters at the contentious Mau Forest came in and fueled more disagreement between Kalenjin MPs allied to William Ruto and Raila Odinga.

Our of the eight MPs fro the Kipsigis community, only four bolted out and joined William Ruto in rebellion against Raila. Four of them stayed on and maintained their unswerving loyalty to the party. These are Franklin Bett the Minister for Roads, Magerer Lang’at an Assistant minister for Energy, Mrs Beatrice Kones, an Assistant Minister for home Affairs and Dr. Joyce Laboso the MP for Sotik in whose constituency anti-Raila leaflets surfaced last week.

The team which rebelled and abandoned the ODM and moved out with William Ruto include Isack Ruto {Chepalungu}, Dr Julius Kones {Konoin}, Charles Keter {Belgut} and Benjamin Lang’at {Ainamoi}.

However, none of the two groups can claim having upper hand a far as popularity inside Kipsigisland is concerned. Opinions are divided between URP and ODMN with KANU trailing the two parties in third position.

The perception that William Ruto and his URP is the most popular leaders and calls the shots in Kipsigis region is not true. When the time for the actual election came, the battle for political supremacy ill be fought in three prongs, namely URP, KANU an ODM, Nicholas Biwott’s Vision Party of Kenya and the UDM could share the spoilt and also succeed in harvesting one or two seats each. It will also depend on ho each party could sustain its presence up to the finishing line.

William Ruto’s flirtation with Uhuru Kenyatta, however, is not well taken by the Kipsigis people who blames Uhuru’s father the founding president for having facilitated the massive settlement of Kikuyus in the regions the Kipsigis people considered as their God given land in the rift Valley. It is also imperative that the Kipsigis and the Kikuyus have fought over the same land ever since 1992-93, 1996-97 and 2007 incurring heavy loses in terms of lives of human being, property and homes.

The reconciliation between members of the two communities appears to be within only he lips of their politicians, but not well cemented in the grass root, and this need more public relations exercises as well as civic education. The same could be said of the reconciliation between the Kisiis and Kipsigis people along the Borabu-Sotik volatile district borders.

Here is no single political party which controls the population in the South Rift region of the expansive Rift Valley Province, and many of the parties could merge victorious comes the next polls.


Kenya: daggers are drawn in the battle for Sigowet/Soin new parliamentary seat

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Sondu Market
The newly created Sigowet/Soin parliamentary constituency could prove to be the biggest hub of more economic activities in the South Rift Region.

The area is unique in that it produces a lot both green leave tea bushes and sugar cane at the same time making it an area where the money could be in the highest circulations.

Sigowet/Soin is also an area where the border is proximity for inter-communal barter trade to flourish between the three major communities in Western Kenya. These are members of the Kipsigis, Luos and Kisiis.

The fast growing Sondu Market could be developed into an area of a booming trade. Sondu has half it is land with parts of it and right in Sigowet/Soin and the other half in Nyakach district. It is situated in a beautiful location between several hills overlooking Sondu/Miriu River.

The busy market is also serving the interest of the residents of North Mugirango Borabu who are living just across Sondu Mriu River separate only by the main Sonu-Oyugis road to the residents of Kabondo East in Rachuonyo South district.

Soundu Market is surrounded by five administrative districts, namely Sigowet/Soin, North Mugirango Borabu,Kasipul-Kabondo and Nyakach. Business people and trades from all the five districts have stake in the business and commercial activities of the market, thus the source of rapidly mushrooming new commercial buildings now springing up everywhere in trading center, though in the past its development was for many years hampered by intermittent tribal conflicts of interest and violence.

Insecurity around Sondu Trading Center could be partly attributed to excessive cattle rustling on both sides of the borer, especially between Sigowet/Soin and Nyakach. But with the newer generations of highly educated lots, this primitive culture is slowly being discarded by and replaced by commercial minded people, who prefer putting up beautiful commercial buildings and hotels in the center for the purpose of improving economic activities of the Center.

Unlike the neighboring Belgut and Ainamoi constituencies which boast of several green leave tea manufacturing factories under the management of the Kenya Tea Development Agency, and the multinational foreign tea plantations and factories, this new constituency has only one small size Soin Sugar Factory. A lot of cane produce in the area are finding their ways t the nearby Muhoroni and Chemelil Sugar Mills.

The green leave teas re sent to Mamul, Tegat,Kabianga and other factories in Belgut and Cheptororit in Ainamoi and also crushed by factories owned by multinational tea factories in both Kericho,Konoin and Bureti districts..

The old larger Belgut constituency has had close to seven or eight different MP ever since its inception in 1963. Its first legislator was the late Alfred Kericho who won the 1963 independence general election on a KADU ticket. He was dethroned by Walcey Rono in 1969, but Kerich bounced back in 1974.but was again sent parking by the late Ayub Chepkwony in 1979.

Chepkwony lost the seat in 1983 to Kiptarus Kerior in 1988, but the latter was beaten by Chepkwony again in 1992 only to for Kerior to reclaimed the seat in 1997 and in the 1990, the constituency was subdivided into two with the creation of the Ainamoi constituency.

Eng.Kipng’eno Arap Ng’eny the former Minister for Water Development became the first MP for Ainamoi in 1997, while the former Finance Assistant Minister Charles Kirui captured the old Belgut. However Kirui lost the Belgut seat to his brother in law Charles Keter in 1997.

In 2002 the former CID Director Noah Nondin Arap Too dethroned Ng’eny, while Keter made a history of becoming he first MP to have successfully defended his Belgut seat.All the previous occupants of the seat served only for one time and nobody had served for the consecutive terms, though some of the were sent to the cold and later recaptured the seat, but only after a five year break.

In the coming elections the man who is favored by most of the electorate and is tipped to wit the seat is Justice Kemei, the former Marketing and Communication Director with the Chemelil Sugar Company in Nyando district. He lost narrowly to Charles Keter in 2007 the much flawed ODM nomination system which was open to massive rigging, especially during the preliminaries.

Kemei is now in consultant business in Mombasa and Western Kenya,but frequenting the area almost every weekend while widely consulting with the electorate. He has one of the most attractive track record of development due to the fact that while he was serving at the nearby Chemelil he initiated a lot of development project and also helped many youth secured jobs.

Rumors making the round is that the former MP and Assistant Minister Kipatarus Kerior who is now a member of the Kenya Sugar Boa of service to the constituents. But when reached Kerior evaded questions about his entry into the race, only saying it will depend on the interests of the residents.

Also rearing to go is a senior lecturer at Eggerton University, NjoroDr. Malawi. The other aspirant is the Kericho business tycoon Kenneth Mutai who is a cousin of Keter.

Other potential contestants include the former Agricultural Services Manager at Chemelil Sugar Company Eng. Richard Koech who is currently in consultancy business in East and Southern African regions. The retired former top manager of Finlays Tea and Flower Company Mr Soi and an ex-high shoo teacher Mr.Kemei.

Other areas of economic activities within Sigowet/Soin constituency include the fast growing Soliat border market, which s close to Kericho Nyando border and also Muhoroni Town.


PHOTO OF Mr Justice Kemei, one of the leading contenders for the newly create Sigowet/Soin seat.


Reports Leo Odera Omolo In Kericho

The Kipsigis leaders are up in arms against what they have described as secret dismantling of machinery at the 50 year old Kenya Tea Packers Association {KETEPA} by the directors of the Kenya Tea Development Agency {KTDA}.

Previously known as the Central Packing Plant, the facility was built by the Broke Bond Tea Company Limited in 1949. The same company established a big printing press in an adjacent building in 1950 in order to cut down the cost of packaging materials printed with the company logo and colors.

But when the Brooke bond sold its tea plantations and close to twenty tea plantation estates and more than a dozen of green tea leaves processing factories in the early 1970s to the Unilever Company, it also offloaded the Central Packing, which was sold to the KTDA and individual investors.

Prior to the new arrangement, the Central Packing was the main tea packers in the entire Eastern African region receiving tea of packaging from as far field as Uganda and Tanzania under Broke Tea business flagship of Brooke Bond Equatorial Ltd and later Brooke Bond Liebig Company Limited.

A couple of years ago the company’s printing complex, the most ultra modern Printing plan in this region were secretly dismantled in mysterious circumstances and its machines shipped away to unknown destination.

It was late rumored that the printing machines were sold to an Asian business tycoon, whose firm that Ketepa management later contracted for printing of its packing materials.

But things turned out to be the worse after the 2008 post election violence. The KDA directors were reported to b unhappy that Ketepa workers and staff were getting politically motivated threats and intimidation and a decision was made to have the facility closed down and its machines moved to a safe site in Ketengela, Nairobi and Thika Town.

Our investigations has revealed that 80 per cent of the Ketepa workers and staff including top managers were local people, the majority who are commuting to work from the nearby Kipsigis reserves therefore the question of the allegation that the company workers were being threatened does not arise and sounded like fiction.

A prominent Kipsigis farmer-cum-politician Mr William Kipkemoi Arap Kettienya termed the KTDA move of relocating Ketapa as an economic sabotage against the local community and another way of marginalizing the community. Such a move would obviously deny the locals the employment opportunities, which they have been enjoying ever since the facility was established over 50 years.

Kettienya blamed the MPs fro the two Counties of Kericho and Bomet of keeping silent while the dismantling of Ketepa facility is going on. He said the building which used to house its packaging machineries is now an empty cell and the MPs from the region should stand up and put the KTDA directors to task.


Kenya: Tea farmers in the South Rift who are expecting boon money from tea businesses next week advised to keep away from twilight girls and con men

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kericho Town.

Tea farmers in the South Rift region who are expecting their bonus payment next week have been warned to keep away from towns to avoid the ugly scene of losing their money to twilight girls and conmen posing as “fake money-makers”.

This warning came from the chairman of the Small Scale Tea owners Association South Rift branch Joel {Bwana Maendeleo} Chepkwony.

Speaking to this writer at the posh Tea Hotel in Kericho Town. Chepkwony said that he had received information that big towns and trading centers within the region are currently under invasion of twilight girls and conmen posing as “Fake Currency” makers with the purpose of preying on the farmer’s sweats.

Owners of hotels, lodges and guest houses in the regions have also been advised not to accommodate suspicious characters be thy men or women in their facilities, especially men and women of no fixed abode.

In this context, Chepkwony said he had in minds the towns like Kericho, Bomet, Litein , Sondu, Sotik and Mogogosiek.

He said he had received information that twilight girls have been pouring into the region from as far as Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Miori Isebania and even from far field like in the neighboring Tanzania to come and capitalize on the boon time of tea bonuses payment, which is reported to be in excess of Kshs 8 billion for the South Rift region alone.

Chepkwony advised to receive their payments through their bank accounts or accounts or get their cash money from the nearby Tea Farmers SACCO offices within their localities. The Tea SACCOS are well spread in small trading centers like Kapsoi, Litein, Mogogosiek, Bomet.

“As soon as the farmers got their money, they should go home and plan well how to pay for their children schools fees, how to improve their family lives maintain their tea bushes to the highest standard and make good saving for other family overheads,” said Bwana Maendeleo.

He went on,” past experiences where some farmer ended up losing the entire amount their earning from tea bonuses to prostitutes and the conmen masquerading as money doublers, the groups commonly known as “Wash Wash”. Farmers should spend their hard earned money wisely, pay their farm hands, debts, build good dwelling houses for their families or improved the existing ones and paint the region good.

‘He pleaded with the farmers to void drinking joins and mixing up with people of suspicious characters and strangers. The only sensible way of avoid such characters is to stay at home with the families and pan ell for the future.

Chepkwny also appealed to he Kenya Tea Board not to license any more privately owned green leaves tea processing factories in the region unless the investors are compelled to offer 50 per cent share equity to the tea farmers. There re two existing privately owned tea factories in Belgut region, one at Kabianga and the other one is located at Chemamul. The investors in this facility must be forced to sale 50 per cent of their shares to the tea growers.

He said if this is not effected with immediate, the farmer would consider other positive actions, which may involved denying these factories the regular supply of green tea leaves from his organization’s members to force them out of business


Kenya: The Kipsigis families are demanding back their land seized by the British colonialists by force and turned into a tea estate

Reports Leo Odera Omolo In Kericho Town.

The Kipsigis County Council has been served with a four months quite notice to surrender back the 470 acres Kabianga Tea estate back to its original owners or else face court action.

Kabianga was one of the first institutions which was established by the colonial authorities in Kenya first as a Government African School and later as a Teachers Training College and expanded to the Farmers Training School in the early 1950s.

At the time of the establishment of the Farmers Training School in the area, there was a big demand for more land to cater for the school experiment farm, and so the colonialists moved into the Kipsigis reserved land and forcefully evicted close to 30 families out of their ancestor’s land.

Those evicted by the colonialists out of their ancestor land were never compensated, so most of them ended up living squalid life as squatters in other parts of the region.

But around 1962 shortly before Kenya attained its political independence, the Farmers Training School was disbanded, and the land measuring about 470 acres was converted into a tea nursery by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with local authorities. The Ministry for some unclear reasons later handed the farm under the sole management of the County Council of Kipsigis.

It was, however, turned into a full fledged tea estate, and the County Council of Kipsigis took charge, and for close to four decades, the council has been fetching close to Kshs 4 million monthly from the sales of the farmers green tea leaves to the multinational tea companies in Kericho and its environ.

But last week 28 representatives of the families whose land was forcefully taken by the colonialists to make room for the tea estate without compensation got together and issued a four months notice to the Council to return their ancestor’s land or else face legal redress through a court of law.

Through the lawier of the former High Court Judge, Mr. Justice Johnson Mitei, the families said they would seek legal redress should the Council fail to surrender the land back to its original owners in the newly created Kericho west district.

The families said in the letter addressed to the Clerk to the Council of the Kipsigis County Council and dated May 27, 2011 they stated that at around independence, the colonial authorities abruptly vacated the land when Kabianga Farmers Training School was disbanded and the vacant land was converted into a tea nursery by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the local authorities..

In the demand notice, the 28 representatives of the displaced families said the farm under the name of Kabianga tea estate was originally known as “Koitab Kipsimot, but the Council moved in and illegally registered it under the name of Kericho Kabianga.

They further claimed that on February 16, 1970, without consulting or seeking the opinion of the families concerned, the Kipsigis County Council registered the land under its own name, a move that said is illegal.

“Without consulting or seeking our client’s concurrence, the Council caused the said piece of land to be registered in its name and purported to have reserved it for the Kenya Tea Development Authority {KTDA}, Kabianga an entity whose existence is in doubt,” said the lawyer’s letter.

They claimed that as the result of the degrading and inhuman treatment they were subjected to, they are now living in squalid conditions.

“Our instruction are that you make arrangements to vacate the said and parcel of land a within four months,” said the notice.


Kenya: ODM leaders in Western Kenya told to stop wrangling abut Counties’ headquarters

Reports Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

The Orange Democratic Movement {ODM} leaders in Western Kenya regions have been urged to stop petty agitation regarding the site and locations of the new counties and to devote their valuable time in campaigning for the party leader Raila Amolo Odinga’s presidential ambition.

These sentiments were expressed early this week by the ODM Youth Coordinator Hilary Ochieng’ Alila to reach the consensus that Counties headquarters should remain where the offices of the existing county Councils are located.

Alila gave the example of the Gusii County, which he said should remain in Kisii Town, the same with Kericho and Bomet Counties, which should remain in the present premises of the County Councils for the Kipsigis region.

In Luo Nyanza, Alila said,”There are four Counties, namely Siaya, Kisumu, Homa-Bay and Migori. The offices of these institutions should remain where the Counties Council offices are presently located. Therefore there is no point for the party leaders to squander much time over new sites and location where the new headquarters should be.

The status quo of these institutions should remain unchanged, for example, the Siaya County should remain in Siaya town, Kisumu the same, Homa-Bay the same and Migori in Migori town.”

The same should apply to new Counties in Western Province and some parts of the North Rift.”These petty argument could divert the attention of party members and leaders from the heavy task which lies ahead, and that is to campaign and ensure that the party leader Raila Odinga win the next presidential election with an overwhelming majority of votes.

In an exclusive interview with this writer, Alila told the ODM members, who will be taking part in the next months party grass root election, to do so with open eyes to guard against possible infiltration by moles and agent provocateurs from the competing political parties.”Party members should ensure they vote only to the genuine and dedicated party leaders.”

He urged the party leadership to extend their hands of support, particularly the MPs from the region, which have turned hostile, but were previously safe in the hands of ODM. Politics change itself is like a clock, but we must give our support to those who have remained steadfast and whose loyalty to the party leader Raila Odinga is unanimous and not questionable. One of these MPs are the likes of Franklin Bett {Buret}, Dr Joyce Laboso {Sotik}, Magerer Lang’at {Kipkellion}, Musa Sirma {Nominated} and others where disgruntled MPs and dissidents have been poisoning the air with empty political slogans.

When told that the former ODM national treasurer and former South Mugirango MP, Omingo Magara, was last weekend seen in Kisumu as one of the party rebels who accompanied the suspended Higher Education Minister, William Ruto, in a triumphed entry into Kisumu City, Alila scoffed it off dismissing the former legislator as a dissatisfied man and a political chameleon.”Magara departure from ODM is a good rident.It has since strengthened the party which is now stronger than ever before in the Gusii region.

Speaking about the Nandi region, Alila said that KANU regime had milked the area down to its knees by killing the price of agricultural products, KCC and other financial outlets for the people of the area. But an ODM government would resuscitate the economies of those regions,

It will work for a better deal for the sugar cane growers in Luo-Nyanza, tea and coffee growers in Gusii and some parts of the South and North Rift regions. Milk producers would be given priority. The same will apply to the maize producers and other cash crops.

Alila predicted an overwhelming victory for ODM in 2012, and appealed to its leaders at all levels to redouble their efforts to propel the party to victory next year. They, the leaders should be humble to all Kenyans including those with diverse ideas and those pursuing different political ideologies, all the time taking into account that “We are all Kenyans and must remain united in order to over come myriads of problems facing our beloved country.

Alila appealed to the rebel party MPs fro the Rift Valley Province to rescind their decision to ditch the party for the sake of their own self and their communities. The MPs, he said should not stoop low and allow them to be used like foreign mercenaries, but to think ahead about their communities and put in place the strategies of eradicating the abject poverty among Kenyans.

The youthful populist politician whose candidature for the Homa-Bay County has been greeted with great enthusiasms hail from Ndhiwa district appealed to Kenyan leaders to tackle all the merging political issues with sobriety, and to stop polarizing the air with venomous utterances, which could provoke tribal hatred.


Kenya: Campaign for Awendo’s New Parliamentary seat has started in earnest

Reports Leo Odera Omolo In Awendo Town.

The campaign in the race for who becomes the next MP in the newly created Awendo Parliamentary seat has started in earnest and prematurely even before the constituency is officially gazette.

The constituency is among the 80 or so additional new parliamentary constituencies recently created by the defunct Interim Boundary Commission, which was led by the former Vihiga MP Andrew Ligale.

If the parliament will eventually ratify and approve the 80 additional parliamentary seats as proposed by Ligale Commission, Awendo district will have its own constituency hived out of the existing Rongo constituency.

Awendo constituency will cover areas close to the Luo-Maasai border in parts of Trans-Mara district will also have a small portion of borderline between Gucha and Awendo district around Kitunja, Ochodororo and Nyamaiya areas. These border areas have always been volatile due to the intermittent skirmishes between the Luos and the Maasais and also between the Luos and the neighboring Abagusii people.

Apart from clashes experience a year ago between the Maasais and the Luos over a the land disputes a year ago, the border areas have remain calm and peaceful for sometime, and the credit should go the Provincial Administration, particularly the Rongo and Gucha District Commissioners, police and local politician for having maintained peace and harmony for the last 18 months.

The last three years ever since the general election in 2007 has seen peace and tranquility prevailing in Awendo Town, which previously was prone to incidents of grisly murders, thuggery and insecurity. Then killers who used to get away with their heinous action have since disappeared and peace and harmony has relatively return to this busy farming town, which is surrounded by sugar cane farms and also housing one of the leading sugar processing firms, the SONYSUGAR.

It as has been established that most of the thugs whose used to terrorize the population within Awendo Town and its environs were characters imported from far locations such as Karungu, Kaler and Kadem locations in Nyatike district by politicians who used them to intimidate or eliminate their potential political rivals whether real of imaginary opponents. Immediately the Rongo and Awendo D.Cs were posted in, the thugs quickly retreated and disappeared, perhaps going back to their original homes.

The agriculturally rich district of Awendo has its administrative headquarters in Awendo town and is covering half a dozen of administrative locations stretching from South Sakwa, Sakwa East, Sakwa North, Central Sakwa{1} and Central Sakwa {11}.

The former Energy and Sports Minister, George Mbogoh Ochillo-Ayacko, is among the leading contender in the new constituency. But there are half a dozens of other aspirants. They include the current chairman of the Awendo Twn Council, Johnson Omolo Owiro, Joseph Owuor is a Personal Assistant to the Ministe for Public Services Dalmas Otieno, Bob Odhiambo Ng’ura, Prof. Eric Otieno, Jude Ayieko, Dr Abwao. Joseph Opiyo the principal of Gamba Secondary School in Sakwa West. The name of the aspirants are expected to swell up within the next few months with more contestants expected to join the race.

In the same constituency, dagger is already drawn for the both Senate and governors position, with Sammy Onyango and Ezra Odondi Odhiambo declaring their interests in the position of governors, while the one time two terms MP for the larger Homa-Bay constituency Phrares Oluoch Kanindo is to battle for the Migori County Senate seat .All are from Awendo district.

However, the man to watch is the current chairman of Awendo Town Council, Councilor Johnson Omolo Owiro. Born in 1947, and the son of the late business magnate, Mzee Ismael Owiro Akoko, the man who is credited for having pioneered into business and single handedly developed Awendo to its present status, Coun Owirotook his early education at Ranjhira Primary School before moving to Luwala Intermediate School where he sat for his KAPE and later joined Pe-Hill Secondary School.

After leaving school he joined the Extra Mural Studies of the University of Nairobi University for two years. He was employed by the East African Industries in the sale section. He later moved to the SONYSUGAR Company where he was employed as a managerial staff in the factory. The Company later sponsored him to a two years study tour of India where he studied sugar production, processes, technology and quality control.

Owiro later ventured into sugar cane transport business as one of the contracted transporters for the SONYSUGAR,and soon after abandoning the transport business established his own Susana Academy school in Awendo Town. In 2005 he established Susana Secondary School also in Awendo town. In the primary section of the school he allowed close to 105 children from poor family free education while in the Secondary section of the same institution close to 30 students from poor families are receiving education for free.

In 2007 Coun.Owiro contested the election in Sakwa Central Ward and beat other seven aspirants with an overwhelming majority of votes on an ODM ticket. He was immediately elected the Chairman of the Council and was re-elected last year for the same position.


Coun Johnson Omolo Owiro, Parliamentary candidate for the Awendo seat

During his tenure of office as the chairman, the Council has constructed Kshs 52 million Awendo Bus Park on them main Kisii –Migori road. He had also initiated the installation of -the town’s street lights, sewerage, water and good road network within the busy town.

Coun.Owiro’s other successes include the recent purchase of school buses for Owiro Akoko Girls Secondary School. The construction of Komolo Rume Secondary School,Got Ogwamrondo dispensary, which is now complete and operational and other projects in Sakwa Central. He is a member of the majority sub-clan known as Jo-Kamiyawa, whose members are the majority in Central Sakwa area covering Awendo Town and SONYSUGAR.

The battle of the wit will therefore be between the former MP Ochillo Ayacko who hails from the neighboring Waware sub-location, but has good following in Sakwa North. Ayacko’s own sub-clan of Kadera and their cousins the Jo-Kakmasia are the majority of the inhabitants of Sakwa North. The former MP is expected to enjoy partly the support of Sakwa East residents but he will have to share the Waware votes with Prof.Erick Otieno, who also hails within his home turf

. But the voters in Awendo Town and SONYSUGAR workers who are so significant and substantial will be out of his reach and here is where Coun.Owiro stand to reap the benefit of his sweat for having turn the Awendo Town around with numerous, but visible development activities during his tenure of office at the Town Hall.

Coun. Owiro maintains the most illustrious background and credibility as an accessible apart from being a staunch member of the Seven Day Adventist Church, which is the dominant religion in the region to his advantage while Ayacko belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, whose following is insignificant I the region.

There is a popular call for change in political leadership in the region, which has for sometime been rotational between Dalmas Otieno and Ochilo Ayacko ever since 1997and Coun Owiro is expected to exploit this new euphoria to the maximum.

The agriculturally rich constituency borders Uriri to the South, Ndhiwa toi the West, Rongo to the North , South Mugirango to the Southeast and Kilgoris to the Southeast. Cattle rustling have been the common feature and the source of insecurity along the common borders with Trans-Mara and Gucha, districts, but of late the situation seemed to be relatively calm and peaceful with very few cases reported.

The economic feature of Awendo district is based on sugar cane farming. The area has one of the most fertile and arable land capable of producing coffee, tea, maize, bananas, vegetables, fruits, sorghum millets, sweet potatoes and other cash crops such as tobacco. The residents have recently ventured into graded dairy cattle, but still in small scale and most people still prefer traditional zebu cattle for beef and other purposes.

The area is served by the ultra-modern Kisii Migori highway, but there are also all weather feeder and access roads used by the nearby SONYSUGAR FACTORY for the transportation of row sugar cane from its more than 25,000 contracted out -grower cane farmers in seven districts of Migori, Awendo, Rongo, Gucha, Trans-Mara, Ndhiwa ,Kuria and Homa-Bay. There are similar numbers of non-contracted cane farmers within the Awendo sugar cane growing zones.

A common belief by the electorate is that it was during Coun.Owiro’s tenure as the chairman of Awendo Town Council which saw the arrival of the new District and the new extra parliamentary constituency oif Awendo and all are attributed to Owiro political dynamism and magnanimity and given his family background, Owiro is the man to watch in Awendo politics.


Kenya: Farmers want teachers kicked out of directorship of KTDA tea factories

Business and Economic News By Leo Odera Omolo In Kisii Town.

MEMBERS of the Small Scale Tea Owners Association from the South Rift and Kisii region held the Association’s executive committee meeting here at the weekend, during which several far-reaching resolutions were passed.

One of the resolution called upon the Kenya Tea Development Agency {KTDA} which is managing all the rurally situated tea processing factories through Kenya to ensure that the number of directors serving in each KTDA managed factory is cut down from the present six to three.

Tea is grown ib abundance in the South Rift region of Kericho and Bomet Counties, and also in Gusii region of Nyamira and Kisii Counties.Other growing zone are in the South and North Nandi districts, Nyeri, Meru.Kiambu and other parts of Central Province.

Tea has since taken over the export market from coffee and has become Kenya’s greatest assets minting millions of dollar annually ,especially the scarce foreign exchange.

The KTDA is managing close to 60 green leaves processing tea factories throughout Kenya apart from the large scale plantation and factories, which are owned and managed by the multinational foreign companies.

This, they said, would be one of the moves to cut down expenses which over- burdened the tea farmers and improves the earning of farmers.

The tea farmers also want those people who are already serving in other field such as school teachers barred from contesting the position of directors of the tea factories. This, they say, would be in line with the policy and spirit of “One Man One Job” as contained therein the new constitution dispensation.

The meeting was jointly chaired by Patrick Ongoto, the regional chairman and Joel Arap Chepkwony {Bwana Maendeleo} the South Rift region’s chairman of the association.

Other contentious issues raised at the meeting were the question of ownership of the tea factories, which are under the management of the KTDA.

Some of these factories were constructed with funds sourced from financial institutions and banks by the KTDA on behalf of local tea growers. And were established many years ago, but the KTDA continued deducting farmer’s money for phantom loans, which in actual sense had already been repaid many years ago.

They challenged the KTDA to come out clean over issues, and also want the Tea Board of Kenya, which is the regulating authority in the tea industry to intervene and look into the matter.

They also queried the positions of other assets, which belonged to the farmers such as warehouses, which are located in the coastal town of Mombasa, where tea product meant for exports are stored and wanted to know who is benefiting from the monthly rental money paid by the tenants. How is this money benefiting the farmers, who are automatically the owners of these properties?

Owing to the sky rocketing prices of farm input and high labor cost, the farmers want the prices of the green tea leaves delivered and process at the KTDA managed factories increase from Kshs 12.50 to Kshs 50/- per kg.

The increment, they argued must be effected immediately because of inputs and maintenance of tea bushes have gone up threshold. The bushes require application of fertilizers at regular intervals, weeding and pruning, making tea one of the most expensive cash crops in the country.

The Tea Board of Kenya is the regulatory body in the tea industry, while the Kenya Tea Development Agency is a quasi-government authority, which is managing close to 60 tea factories established in various tea growing zones through Kenya.

KTDA is a semi-parastatal organization, and it managed these tea processing factories on behalf of the local tea growers who are maintaining deliveries to the processing plants on daily basis to keep them running. These farmers are subjected to monthly deduction of their earning from the deliveries, the money which is said to be for the replenishment of the loans used for the construction of the factories.

But some of the factories were established close to twenty years ago, and whatever loans owed the financial institutions is believed to have been cleared, though the farmer continued paying back the purported loan money.

The farmers are high up in arms demanding that the position of those factories which were established close to twenty years ago be clarified as far as loans obtained from financial institutions and banks are concerned, and where the loan is already cleared the ownership should revert to the farmers.


Kenya: Tea Plantation workers in nation vowed to continue their strike demanding for the removal of mechanized harvesting system

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

The on going strike by thousands of workers in the tea industry need to be resolved with utmost speed as it poses the danger of hurting the country’s economy.

About 19,000 workers in the tea plantation and factories downed their tools on the 10thh of October so far both sides of the stakeholders comprising of the Kenya Union of Plantation Workers and the Tea Growers Association are adamant to make any meaningful move that could lead to the issues involved being resolved amicably.

The issue in hand is the introduction of mechanized tea plucking system involving the use of machine instead of the normal manual picking by workers. The Union claims that since the introduction of these machines about five years ago close o 21,000 workers have been declared redundant and sacked.

In the two previous agreement signed by the workers and employers officials, it was previously agreed that the tea plucking machine would be introduced only at only three per cent and the rest be done manually.

At the meting attended by 500 strong shop-stewards, branches officials and national official of the union led by the Secretary-General Francis Atwoli defiantly announced that the strike will go on until the employers agree to come to the negotiation table so that the issue could be negotiated afresh. The meeting was held at the Tom Mboya Labor College in Kisumu City.

Atwoli was accompanied by the Union Assistant Secretary General Thomas Kipkemboi, the National Treasurer Joshua Oyuga, Isa Wafula, Kericho branch secretary Joshua Owuoir, Sotik branch secretary David Belil.

The workers representatives had travelled from all the tea growing zones of Nyamira, Nandi Hills, Tinderet, Sotik, Kaimosi, Bomet and Kericho who were led by their branch secretaries and other officials.

Atwoli who is also the Secretary General of the workers umbrella body , the Central Organization of Trade Unions of Kenya {COTU.K} warned that if the strike continue to escalate, he would not hesitate from calling the General Council of COTY {K} to declare national strike in Kenya . He said in such an event, the workers in other sub-sectors of the economy would be called upon to go on strike in solidarity with the workers in the tea industry.

The COTU boss also threaten to move to Geneva and consult world trade union bodies such as ICFTU and WTC to lobby for international workers action. In such a situation the workers world-wide, especially those working in major ports of the world to stop or boy cot the handling of Kenya’s tea destined for exports to the world market, and this would paralyzed the industry in Kenya and bring the big headed employers down to their knees.

But despite of the union tirades, the employers in the tea industry remained adamant and reiterated that the strike by the manual tea pickers which is in its second week will not stop multinational tea companies from using the machines despite the union threat to push the international market to boy-cot Kenyan tea.

Tea is one of the biggest assets for Kenya supporting thousands of families who work in the industry and fetching million of the much needed foreign exchange.

The situation appear to worsen at the weekend as the employers and workers union stuck to their grounds – only agreeing to negotiate if either sides meet some conditions.

The Federation of Kenya Employers {FKE} representing the companies issued a statement lon Saturday evening saying the strike by the workers will no top the mechanized tea picking, but added that negotiations can only begin if the strike is called off.

Both sides had moved to court and filed injunctions. The KTGA had earlier moved to court and obtained court injunction stopping the strike, but the union was not served with the court paper. It also came late after the strike was in actual effect going on. The union, however, moved to the Industrial Court a day later and obtained injunction prohibiting the employers from victimizing he striking workers by evicting from their companies houses or cutting water supplies

The FKE executive director Jacquiline Mugo said the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union had called the strike without following due process.

But speaking in Kisumu last night Atwoli said the union had exhausted all the laid down legal channel and gave the employers a seven days notice of strike as required by the law. He said the workers through the International Trade Union Organizations, will push buyers in the international market to boycott Kenyan tea. He maintained the move would force the multinational companies operating in Kenya to back down on the move to introduce mechanized tea harvesting system.

Atw9li blasted the MPs from the tea growing zone for not showing interest and sympathy with the workers plight, though these are the electorate in their respective constituencies. “These MPs only sneaking and trooping into the offices of the multinational tea company soliciting for bribes and lucrative businesses, but were doing nothing to assist the down trodden workers.”

He also issue a threat to expose one top government official in a Ministry has recently bribed some hooligans who moved to Court demanding for his removal from COTU{K}. The man is afraid because I knew too much about his shoddy financial deals and corruption, which I am just about to expose to the world. He warned the Minister in-charge of the Ministry who is keeping the same corrupt official in his office that he too would be exposed as an accomplice of this corrupt official.

Atwoli announced that he would tomorrow {Monday} toured the striking workers zones in Nandi region and Kericho, Bomet and Sotik region and told the shop-stewards to ensure that the strike is 100 per cent everywhere.

He said since the strike is yet to be declared illegal and government is keeping quiet, the use of the crack police unit the GSU and the regular police to intimidate the workers or evict them from their houses is illegal and must stop forthwith. It is also against human right to evict somebody who is legally on strike demanding for his rights out of the company house.

He had received disturbing reports that some employers in Nyamira, Sotik and Tinderet had deployed the police in the estate camps who were forcefully evicting the workers from their company houses and locking doors or cutting water supplies to the workers estates. He appealed to the Commissioner of Police to stop these malpractices since the strike is legal and the workers were peaceful observing the laws to the letters.

Workers leaders reported that the strike was almost 100 per cent at the Unilever, but not effective in the James Finlays and other tea estates, and urged the regional union leaders to ensure that all the workers did not report to work on Monday until the employers come to the negotiation table.


Kenya & Tanzania: Tea Company plans to arrest lightning menace in its plantations

Reports Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

DEATH by lightning of both human and livestock as well as destruction of property is not strange in East Africa.

On average, lightning kills about 40 people annually in Kenya alone. It strike mostly during the short-rains season beginning from the months of September and December, and also is very common at the starts of the long rain season in the months of April-May.

In Zimbabwe the death is reported to be averaging between 200 and 250 annually, followed by the neighboring Zambia with an average death toll of between 140 and 180 people annually.

In Kenya the National Lightning Committee is said to have been dormant for lack of funds, despite the fatalities recorded every year.

The most prone areas are low-laying regions of the highlands west of Rift Valley and around Equator. These regions report the highest strikes with most victims being those sheltering rain under trees or in verandas or in the open {tea fields}.

In the South Rift region of Kericho and its environs where incidences of lightning strike are so common. Other areas include the neighboring Kisii region and Southern Nyanza and along the shorelines of Lake Victoria.

Kericho is the region where Kenya most Kenyan tea is grown. The region is always recorded the highest number of incidences of deaths caused by the thunderbolt. Other area include the North Rift region of Uasin Gishu, Keiyo, Nandi, Marakwet, Trans-Nzoia and the menace spread of the low-laying land of Bungoma, Kakamaga, Mumias Busia and Siaya.

It is for this reason that one of the multinational tea companies, the Unilever Tea Company Ltd. {formerly Brooke Bond Tea Company Ltd.} and its Tanzania subsidiary, the Tanzania Tea Company Ltd, recently carried out a special study to monitor to monitor lightning strikes with the view to evacuate personnel in time before lightning strikes.

The study was also driven by the stringent policy on safety of its personnel in the tea fields. The companies have invested heavily in technology as well as management systems. Over 22,000 workers are benefiting from a safer work environment. There have been no more facilities and the number of false evacuations has reduced, resulting in more productive man hours.

This innovative programme carried out in Tanzania and Kenya impressed the judges of the inaugural East African Community Corporate Social Responsibility Awards 2010 held in Dar Es Salaam recently.

The companies were awarded the “Best Workplace Practice Award in the Bank M- sponsored awards. The awards were held in partnership with East African Business Council, and a Nairobi weekly the EASTAFRICAN.

“The programme, incorporated a comprehensive risk assessment to evaluate the greatest risk employees face – lightning strikes in the tea plantations, “noted the judges.

The judges selected this program specifically for its rigorous approach to assessing the biggest risk facing employees and putting in place comprehensive management and reporting systems to ensure that the initiative was carried out to its best and challenges were overcome. Partnering with local and international experts and technology organizations as well as investing time in communicating and training employees creatively about the new system is testimony to the true commitment Unilever Tanzania and Kenya have made for their employees.

In the same category, Safaricom the largest mobile phone provider in Kenya,Foundation’s “World of Difference Program” – a secondment program sending employees to the Foundation’s non-governmental organization partners such as Red Cross Kenya to provide training and support on IT systems, administration and marketing was highly commended by the judges.

Twelve employees have been sent to four NGOs and more employees will be sent this year.

Voluntary Service Organization was brought on board to measure and evaluate employee performance.

Tea is grown in Tanzania’s highland region of Mufindi, and also in Malawi Mt. Sochwe region near Blantyre, KERICHO AND Sotik Highlands and the Nandi Hills as well as Maborokie in Limuru area. These are the areas which attracts most rainfalls during the rainy season in the year, making them prone to lightning menace.


Kenya: New Private motion introduced in Parliament could destroy the vibrant tea industry

Economic and Business Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo In Kericho Town

The Tea Amendment Bill 2010, a private members motion recently introduced to Parliament by the youthful Konoin MP Dr.Julius Kones, if implemented as a the new law governing and regulating the industry, would certainly destroy Kenya’s tea industry.

The tea industry has of late increasingly become the country’s greatest economic asset racking in close to Kshs 70 billion between 2008 and 2009 alone, most of it in hard foreign currency.

And the key players in the industry sees the new Tea Bill, which seeks among other things to total liberalization of the industry would ruin it and bring it to a total collapse. An action which would put into chaos and jeopardizing the lives of close to five million Kenyans.

The key players have accused the MP of ignoring the input by other stakeholder and unilaterally drafting the law that would kill the industry the same way the coffee industry has met its death.

Kones seemed to have parochial intention with the aims and objectives of protecting few small scale tea farmers in the South Rift thereby gaining political mileage at either community or constituency level without taking into account the long term economic repercussion.

The MPO ought to have known that there are more than 60 green tea processing factories scattered all over Kenya, particularly in Central, part of Easter, Western and Nyanza Provinces.

The Kenya Tea Development Agency [KTDA] is the government parastatal body charged with the responsibility of regulating and managing these factories on behalf of hundreds of thousands.

Small-scale tea farmers in the villages where the crop is grown are technically the owners of these KTDA managed factories.

As the KTDA Managing Director Mr. Lorionka Tiampati put it the other day during a Television interview, the KTDA had secured finances from the financial institutions on behalf of the small-scale farmers. To establish an extra-modern green leaves tea processing factory required the colossal amount, which is estimated to be between Ksha 500 million and Kshs One billion.

The hollow and shallow argument advanced by Kones and his supporters is that KTDA is paying less to the farmers. For example Kshs 12.50 per a kg. Whereas those farmers who are hawking green leaves tea and delivering the same to the Multi-national tea companies are fetching between Kshs 25 and 35 per kg of green leaf tea.

But those delivering the crops to the multinational tea companies are not earning any bonus, whereas the farmers who delivers their crops to the KTDA factories are earning bonuses, which is equal to Kshs 12.50 payable annually in a lump sum.

Technically, the small scale farmer is also contributing towards the replenishment of the loan accrued by the KTDA to construct the factory on behalf small-scale farmer. The KTDA is also subsidizing for certain farm inputs such as fertilizers, technical advice etc.

If the industry is liberalized the way Kones sees it, it would entail the farmers to go hawking with their harvest looking for higher prices from the multinational tea companies, and the KTDAS tea processing factories will have to be close down.

Moreover, it is only in the South Rift and in part of Central Prog9ince, particularly in Kiambu district, Nandi and Western regions where the multinational tea companies are operating. The rest of the KTDA managed tea factories are located in regions where there are no multinational tea companies.

Credible studies carried out by the various stakeholders revealed that not the small-scale tea farmers are benefiting from the high prices paid out by the multinational tea companies, which are based in Kericho, Bureti, Bomet and districts.

It is indeed, the middlemen, commonly called “Mang’eritos” who are reaping the fruits out of the sweats of the poor small scale tea farmers in rural locations. The “Mang’reritos” pays the poor farmers as little as 10/- per kg, far much below the KTDA’s Kshs 25/- per kg with nothing left like bonuses. But because of the bureaucratic logistics and red tape treatment on the part of KTDA managers and agents in the field, the desperate farmers become disillusioned and want a quick kill by selling his or her green tea leaves to the “Mang’reritos” for readily available cash money.

KTDA managed tea factories, which are located in the South Rift include Kapkatet, Litein, Tegat, Mamul, Kapkoros and Mogogosiek. There are even much more KTDA managed tea factories established in the Gusii region of Nyanza Province than those operating in the South Rift, which Dr.Kones is believed to be narrow minded about.

The small scale tea farmers in other areas outside South Rift region want the contentious Bill, which according to Dr. Kones, is meant to improve the regulation governing the tea sector, shelved until the input by all the stakeholders is taken into consideration before its implementation and enactment as a law.

Through their local directors, the small scale tea farmers operating outside the South Rift have complained, that the Bill, the Tea Amendment Bill 2010 is likely to cause more serious damage to the sector and perhaps negate on the benefits realized under the current Tea Act.

Whereas Dr Kones’ Bill, which proposes to amend the Tea Act {Cap 343 law of Kenya, is designed to liberalize the tea industry and improve the welfare of small-scale tea farmers, a close look at the provisions of the Bill reveals a well orchestrated scheme to cause chaos in the small-scale farmers sub-sector and ultimately cause the collapse of the industry for the benefit of a few hidden cartel of unknown individuals.

Other analysts say, although farmers in other quarters were in support of an improve Tea Act, the proposed Kone Bill would destroy rather than improve the industry. The Bill, they said, is neither reformist not liberating. It is retrogressive, draconian and clearly suspected to be driven by ulterior motives and bad faith. Other says, they have read mischief in its introduction, particularly at this time when prices of tea are incr3asingly becoming more competitive in the world market.

Alternatively the other option left for the government is to privatize all the tea factories currently under the KTDA management. They should sell them to new investors, who will relieve the small scale of the burden of paying millions in loans, which appeared to be endless and enslaving the farmers. Thereafter the new investors could set their own prices, which they deemed competitive enough in the face of encroachment or scramble for green tea leaves by the multinational tea companies.

The privatization exercise, is the only avenue that would set the tea farmers free to sell their crops to whoever they choose and wherever they like. This could not be achieved while these factories owed their financiers hundreds of millions.

Liberalization of the tea industry does not mean farmers should be free to hawk around looking for buyers of their crops. This would also affect the quality of tea and kill the industry.

Kone Bill is silent over how the loans would be serviced when the factories are idle not producing any tea after the farmers have gone hawking their crops to the multinational tea factories for higher prices. Thousands of workers currently employed in the KTDA managed factories would be declared redundant.

Technically, the MP has failed to explain how small-scale farmers will benefit should the Bill become law. He has chosen to single handedly draft the a Bill with grave consequences for an industry that contribute 5 per cent to Kenya’s GDP_ with exports valued at Kshs 70 billion in 2008/2009 alone.

In the small holder sector, there can be any progress by acting apart from each other. This is what caused chaos in the coffee industry leading to its near collapse

In a close scrutiny in terms of returns per kilo of green leaf tea. Kenyan small holder farmers are the best paid lots in the world, compared to their counterparts in other tea growing countries. The reason being that in Kenya, the farmer owns the factory to which they deliver raw tea, making him/her not only a supplier of green leaf, but also a shareholder.

This is why the best of KTDA managed factories pay out as much as 75 per cent of the total revenues earned per year to the farmer.

Kenya’s small-scale tea farmers, however, faces challenges such as declining land sizes, which has made many units economically unviable, high cost of labor and electricity and unstable global prices. But it is incomprehensible what will happen to the 54 factory companies should God forbid, the new Tea Bill become law.

By proposing uncontrolled registration and delivery of tea by the farmer to any factory, the Bill inadvertently seeks to stall the progress of some 600,000 farmers and their families and drive them into abject poverty.

Section 8B of Kones Bill reads as follows; ”Notwithstanding, the provision of the Act {Cap 343] or any other law, a tea grower may deliver green leaf to a factory of his choice.”.

It has been noted that the KTDA model is unique and its success has been the subject of studies by other tea producing countries including Sri Lanka, India, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa.

If farmers are not registered and managed by their local factories, it will make guarantee of product, collection of loans due to the factory, collection of SACCO loans, securing credit for factory development and inputs procurement impossible.

Collectively, the factory companies are servicing expansion and modernization loans amounting to Kshs 6 billion. The financial institutions next course of action will be to recall the loans as the factories will no longer be guaranteed leaf for processing and revenues.

This experts say, could lead to the disposal of farmers assets at throwaway prices.

Other good news apart from the mischievous proposed Tea Bill, are good news that Kenya is scoring a double in the tea industry-both prices and production levels have remained high, a situation the regulator says is likely to prevail throughout the year as the country enjoys the current good rainfalls.

This development is good news for farmers who last year earned the highest end-of-year payments in 25 years, averaging Kshs 40 {USD 0.54} per kg.

The KTDA, which is currently engaged in protracted war battling the proposed controversial Tea Bill meant to wrestle the small-scale tea farmers from its control, also increased the monthly payments from Kshs 10 to Kshs 12 {USD 0.15} in January.

Unlike last year when it was unable to supply fertilizers due to high costs, the commodity is in plenty supply this year.

Also reported on increase are the countries buying Kenya’s tea, rising to 38 from 35 in 2009 and 2008 respectively.

Industry players had predicted that increased production would cause the good prices enjoyed at the peak of the drought last year to fall but reports from the Tea Board of Kenya indicate the party is still on . The board’s Managing Director Cicily Kariuki was recently quoited by a section of the press as saying the prices were unlikely to come down even with increased production because traders would not reduce them at supermarket level, sentiments shared by her the KTDA counterpart. Lorionka. Tiamnpati

The tea production for the first quarter of this year stood at 11 million kgs, a 69 per cent increases over the 65.8 million kgs recorded in the first quarter of last year.