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By Corporate Communications Officer, NTZDC

NTZDC Board of Directors last week conducted a tour of the West of Rift Zones to acquaint themselves with the operations on the ground in the Corporation's far-flung zones. Led by Board Chairman and Managing Director, the 4-day rigorous tour commenced on Monday 27th March, 2017 at Saboti in Trans Nzoia County where the Board visited the tea blocks and nursery with VPs for infilling programme set to commence this planting season. The Board noted that Saboti Zone was on a sure path to recovery having been grossly affected by instability in the past. At Saboti, the NTZDC Directors also paid a courtesy call to the Elgon Tea Factory which has newly been set up to support tea growing in the region.

The Directors then proceeded to Kapsokwony Zone in Bungoma County and viewed the extensive tea blocks. The Directors were satisfied with the overall agronomical practices observed in the management of the tea blocks which ensured good yields and achievement of production targets. The Zone management led by their manager Peter Nyakweba was commended for a job well done and were encouraged to raise the bar and achieve better production. The Board assured them of support to overcome any challenges that affected the zone.

The second day of the sojourn saw the Board visiting Kapcherop and Kaptarakwa Zones, both in Elgeyo Marakwet County. In Kapcherop, the esteemed visitors went to various blocks in the zone to appreciate the achievements and challenges on the ground. They commended the zone management for good work and steady improvement in production performance as a result of good husbandry on the farms. The Board then paid a courtesy call to the local KFS office where they discussed matters of mutiual concern in the region between the two conservation agencies with the officer in charge.

The Directors then proceeded to Kaptarakwa zone on the opposite end of the county later that afternoon. At Kaptarakwa, the Board was able to to witness the ongoing expansions in various blocks comprising a mixture of purple and green tea. The Board commended zone manager Charles Kirui for staying firm amidst various challenges to oversee tremendous improvement of the zone in tea production and expansion of the buffer to curb encroachment into forest areas.

On the 3rd day, the Board visited the new expansions in Kuresoi which is part of the Corporation's ongoing buffer establishment project to protect Mau forest. The Board was impressed by the massive new tea-belt establishment in South West Mau, noting that it is now a Corporation's flagship project and a perfect indicator of achievement of the Corporation's core mandate of conservation. The Board commended NTZDC management and the staff on the ground led by Mr. Elvis Ngeno for a wonderful job of implementing the Presidential Directive issued in 2014 to protect the Mau forest. Board members let bt Chairman Mathew Iteere offered a reward of 2-goats to the Mau/Kuresoi establishment staff in recognition of their exemplary work.

Thursday, 30th March, 2017 marked the climax of the Board field tour with a visit to Nyangores and Olenguruone Zones. At Nyangores, the Board was able to observe the buffer concept as it can clearly be seen through the undulating terrain along the Mau forest. Earlier at the Zonal Office, zone manager Livingstone Bett took the Board through an impressive statistical analysis of the zone's performance over the years. He was commended for a good job of steering the zone and challenged to surpass the 2million kgs production target.

At Olenguruone, the Board witnessed first hand the effects of forst and hail on tea plantations which are common in the region and commended the Zone management led by Paul Otwoma for mainytaining good tea husbandry to record substantive production yields. The Board challenged the zone management to fast-track the establishment of wind-breakers in the tea plantations to mitigate the effects of hail damage.

On behalf of Board members, Chairman Mathew Iteere thanked the NTZDC Management led by MD Peter Korir for organising the successful tour. He noted that the visit was a great learning experience to the Board and the learning points will go a long way in boosting the Board's leadership role of the Corporation.