Trouble Brewing as DCI Goes After Tea Bosses 

Lerionka Tiampati KTDA Holdings CEO at his office.
  • The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has issued a summon letter addressed to four top officials at the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Holdings.

    In a letter seen by, the four were identified as CEO Lerionka Tiampati, Head of Legal Dr John K. Omanga, Head of Procurement Brown M. Kanampiu and the Head of Finance Simeon Rugut.

    According to the letter, DCI informed the four that he was compiling a case on conspiracy to commit fraud.

    “I have reasons to believe that you, Lerionka, are connected to the offence or have information, which can assist me in my investigations,” reads an excerpt from one of the letters.

    Lerionka Tiampati KTDA Holdings CEO at his office.

    They were directed to present themselves at the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road on Monday, August 24, for questioning.

    Lerionka has been in charge of the private holding company owned by over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers for over a decade.

    In October 2019, he was in the news for the wrong reasons when he brushed off protests by farmers over what they deemed as unacceptable bonuses.

    The CEO went as far as asking them to uproot their tea plants if they so wished, drawing alot of angry reactions from his employers.

    “We have no say over what farmers want to do with their tea bushes. They are overall owners of the plants,” he told the press.

    Statistics indicate that more than 60% of tea dollars are deducted from the farmer’s produce to run factories, warehouses and other overhead costs.

    For the period in question (2018), Kenya sold 474,861,590 kilos worth Ksh140 billion, at the average price of Ksh296 per kilo.

    However, bonuses came in at less than half of what farmers received in the previous year, with the average bonus recorded as Ksh15 per kilo.

    KTDA recently opened an office at the Dubai Tea Trading Centre (DTTC), which was geared towards acting as an intermediary between production and consumption.

    Smallholder farmers have always maintained that they are stuck as they have no one else to sell their produce to.

    A detailed feature by NTV in October 2019, claimed that smallholder tea farmers receive only 16% of the consumer price paid in Europe and other importers, while 84% is shared by traders, brokers, marketers and other boardroom members.

    Workers pick tea at a farm in Kericho.
    Workers pick tea at a farm in Kericho.

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