Why KTDA borrowed Ksh18.2 billion loan to pay an early bonus to farmers

The Ministry of Agriculture is investigating the circumstances surrounding the Kenya Tea Development Agency’s (KTDA) use of a Sh18.2 billion loan to pay an early bonus to farmers ahead of last August’s general election.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi stated that he is gathering more information on what happened when the agency took out the loan.

Mr Linturi claimed that the timing and amount of the loan were both incorrect, and that the previous administration coerced KTDA into taking the loan.

“The issue of KTDA borrowing money to pay farmers, at least I would say I have a bit of information on when and where the money was borrowed and who coerced KTDA to borrow,” Mr Linturi said.

The loan was guaranteed by KTDA Management Service, a division of KTDA Holdings.

KTDA typically closes its books on June 30, with bonus payments to farmers approved in September and disbursed in October.

The 2021/2022 bonus, on the other hand, was paid in early July.

According to sources familiar with the situation, company officials were rushed by top State officials to pay the bonus in order to sway votes in favor of a specific presidential candidate.

“By the time the company paid the bonus, the books had not been closed and audited. “KTDA officials were directed to borrow money to pay bonuses to growers in order to influence their decision during the election,” the source said.

KTDA chairman David Ichoho said borrowing was not wrong, but he did not say whether the loan was intended to sway votes.

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