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Small farmers to process new teas under new rules

A worker at a tea estate in Nandi Hills. PHOTO | FILE
A worker at a tea estate in Nandi Hills. PHOTO | FILE 

Tea farmers with less than eight hectares under cultivation will be allowed to grow and process new varieties rather than sell raw leaf.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority is set to release new guidelines that will accommodate the changes to govern the sector.

Kenya is seeking to diversify from black tea that accounts for 95 per cent of its overall production to raise the beverage’s revenue.

“We intend to unveil new guidelines for manufacturing specialty teas before the end of the second quarter. This will help increase the availability of planting material and manufacturing facilities, which are required to enable farmers embrace the new tea varieties,” said Samuel Ogola, technical services manager at Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority’s Tea Directorate.

Mr Ogola said the government will seek to raise production of white, purple and orthodox tea that have a higher value compared to black tea.

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Kenya is the world’s leading exporter of black tea. Tea exports generated earnings of Sh125.3 billion last year, a 23 per cent increase from the previous year.

“Though take up of new varieties has been limited, with black tea continuing to dominate the market, there is a definite need to create product diversity,” said the director of Gold Crown Beverages, Peter Kimanga. 

“The government has done a good job of ensuring Kenyan tea is pesticide-free and ‘clean’, which is ideal for premium quality branding and in line with international preferences. This should be a key selling point.”

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