Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings (KTDA) to initiate an elaborate plan that will ensure value addition to 90% of the tea grown in the country before it is exported
He emphasised that tea farmers will reap maximum benefit from their labour if there is increased value addition to the tea they produce instead of selling it raw.
“The real future for tea is value adding 90% of our tea and finding direct markets from the farm to the one consuming the tea in a cup. That will be the long-term solution and that solution lies with you to set the foundation,” the President said. Apart from increasing the income of tea farmers, he said value addition will also help to create more jobs for the country’s youth.
Kenyatta announced this while addressing directors of the smallholder tea sub-sector where also announced that this year the tea industry registered its best performance in the last five years.
He pointed out that the earnings of smallholder tea farmers increased by 42.4% in 2022 following the reforms initiated by the Government.
The President said the additional revenue, which will be paid to tea farmers, has risen by 44.6% in 2022. Noting that the rise of 76% is an average, the President emphasised that each tea factory will pay specific rates based on its performance with some of the factories paying more than others.
President Kenyatta expressed optimism that the improved performance of the tea sub-sector this year will boost the hope of the over 650,000 smallholder tea farmers and the approximately 30% of Kenyans who are employed in the wider agricultural sector.
“I am confident that once the ongoing reforms are fully implemented, the tea industry will be fully revitalised for the benefit of the tea farmers and the country,” President Kenyatta said.
The President highlighted several key interventions that contributed to the increased earnings for the tea sub-sector including setting up of the minimum reserve price at the Mombasa tea auction in July 2021 that led to an increase in tea export earnings.
To further boost the tea farmers’ income, President Kenyatta directed agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya to ensure fertiliser subsidy is increased.
Speaking during the occasion, CS Munya said the Government in collaboration with KTDA is implementing many other programs to enhance the competitiveness of the tea sub-sector and improve the livelihood of tea farmers in Kenya.
Tea Board of Kenya chairman Dr David Kiarie Mburu thanked the Government for mitigating against the impact of the global economic recession on the Kenyan tea sector by stabilising fuel prices and lowering electricity tariffs.