The Mombasa Tea Auction has moved its main trading activity to the Sarova Whitesands Hotel, reversing the closure that had been announced on Monday after a crisis meeting by key players in the sector.
The main auction, which ought to have taken place Tuesday, will now be held Wednesday at the hotel. The auction has two sessions — secondary sale held on Mondays and primary sale (main grade) on Tuesdays.
“Auction 12 main grade will be held on Thursday, March 26 at the Sarova Whitesands Hotel Conference hall starting at 7.30 a.m.,” said East Africa Tea Traders Association (EATTA), which runs the auction.
EATTA has issued strict guidelines to control the number of people on the trading floor in line with the government directive on social distancing to fight the coronavirus that had prompted the initial suspension.
All buyers participating in the secondary auction will now send only one representative to avoid crowding in line with the government guidelines.
Brokers will be expected to appear in time for the auction proceedings and to depart immediately after they have sold. They have also been requested not to send any data clerks to the auction and to collect data from their offices instead.
The reports of closure had raised concerns among stakeholders, with multinational tea companies saying it would have devastating effects on the sector. Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA)said the sector needs to remain in operation to recover from the effects of a bad year in 2019 that resulted from low prices.