Hundreds of tea workers have been sent home due to prolonged drought in Nandi County.
Multinational tea companies in the region have also reduced the number of working days from six to three because of a drop in the yield.
The tea companies have remained with less than half of the total work force and are operating below capacity as the dry season continues to bite.
The firms have pruned huge hectares of tea plantations in Nandi after the company management said they expect the rains to resume before the end of last month.
Nandi Tea Company General Manager Abdi Hussein said the firm had been forced to lay off more than 1,000 tea pickers because of the prolonged dry spell.
“The dry spell started in December and it is getting worse. Tea yields are also falling globally because of climate change,” said Mr Hussein.
The manager warned that the number of workers will continue to reduce for the next one month.
CONTINUE TO REDUCE
“The number of workers will continue to reduce until mid-April when rains are expected. Till then, factories and tea companies will be operating below normal capacity.”
Mr Hussein said that the situation was aggravated by fire outbreaks which are common during this period, destroying hundreds of acres of the crop.
When a fire broke out in the factory, the company’s senior manager, Mr Esbai Sigot and area MCA Julius Kiptindinyo mobilised the remaining workers and helped extinguish it. It, however, destroyed tea plantations and forest.
According to Mr Sigot, during peak seasons, the company processed more than 100,000 kilogrammes of tea a day, but now they were processing less than 20,000 kilogrammes.
“Casual workers have been sent home. Those remaining are permanent employees who work for only three days a week instead of six,” said Mr Sigot.
Farmers who delivered about 50,000 kgs a day can only manage 10,000 kgs because of the prolonged dry spell. There are 15 multi-national tea companies in Nandi and three others owned by parastatals. Mr Kiptindinyo promised to table a Motion in the county assembly to allocate funds to buy fire-fighting equipment.
“The county assembly will also pass Bills and allocate designated areas where smokers can smoke to avoid unnecessary fires,” said Mr Kiptindinyo.
Source: Daily Nation
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