Machines or Not? Storm in a teacup?
The numbers thrown back & forth make little sense since there is no accurate count of workers who depend on tea plucking.
Plucking tea is one of the lowest paid jobs in the formal sector but very important to the rural masses in the Central & Rift Valley regions.
COTU (thru Atwoli) has been bandying around that the introduction of te-harvesting machines could lead to a loss of 200,000 jobs!
KTGA contends they only employ 68,000 workers!
I think Atwoli is full of it but the hyperbole plays well.
What Kenyans need to reliase is that the Growers are in it for the money & the workers though low paid have great facilities (relative to the peasant tea farmer) since the "consumer watchdogs" keep an eye on the plantations.
Furthermore, Tea is no longer the beverage of choice for many. I see more Kenyans drinking sodas, caffeinated drinks & water than tea! Thus the market for tea is NOT expanding but worldwide production is soaring thus depressing the world market.
Kenyan tea is renowned for its "colour" but there are various grades of tea. Tea sold in most Western countries is blended. Unless Kenya creates a "name" e.g. Colombian Coffee, there is no point in having pricey tea that can't be sold at a premium.
James Finlay has ventured into the Green Tea market & if it can't produce quality Green Tea, it can't compete. It needs the tea harvesteing machines to ensure "freshness". This is a NEW product for Kenya.
Other countries will introduce the machines & Kenyan tea will be priced out. There will be a lot more jobs lost!
EABL had to shape up & is very efficient & growing its market.
KQ fired lots of inept employees but is now hiring while it grows exponentially.
Let the Tea Companies do their thing! I hope they can get into growth mode & provide BETTER jobs for the populace.
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