President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings (KTDA) to initiate an elaborate plan that will ensure value addition to 90 percent of the tea grown in the country before it is exported.
The President emphasized 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 percent 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,” President Kenyatta said.
Apart from increasing the income of tea farmers, President Kenyatta said value addition will also help to create more jobs for the country’s youth.
The Head of State spoke on Saturday when he addressed 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% from Kshs 44 billion in 2021 to Kshs 63 billion in 2022 following the reforms initiated by the Government.
“This is approximately an additional Kshs 18.74 billion that will be paid to tea farmers courtesy of the interventions we, as a Government, made to revitalize this sub-sector.
The President said the additional revenue, which will be paid to tea farmers, has risen by 44.6% from average earnings of Kshs 34.71 per Kg of green leaf in 2021 to an average of Kshs 50.18 in 2022. “With this performance, the average bonus payment per kilogram of green leaf in 2022 will rise by 76% from Kshs 21.07 earned last year to Kshs 37.11 in 2022,” President Kenyatta said.
Noting that the rise of 76% is an average, the President emphasized 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 revitalized 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 from Kshs 120 billion in 2020 to Kshs 136 billion in 2022.
“Monthly payments to tea farmers are also being done by the 1st week (by 5th of every month) as opposed to the 3rd week,” President Kenyatta said.
To further boost the tea farmers income, President Kenyatta directed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to ensure fertilizer subsidy is increased from Kshs 1 billion to 3 billion.
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 stabilizing fuel prices and lowering electricity tariffs.
“Going forward, the Board will continue working closely with other relevant agencies to ensure sustainability of tea farming as a meaningful source of livelihood to tea growers in the country,” Dr. Mburu said.
KTDA national Chairman David Muni Ichoho also spoke during the meeting that was also attended by the Head of Public Service.