The County Government of Bomet in collaboration with local companies will export the region’s tea produce directly to Iran to enable farmers earn more income.
While flagging off the first consignment of 84 tonnes of tea sourced from private companies, the area Governor Dr. Hillary Barchok said the county has received clearance from the Ministry of Agriculture to access the Iranian market.
Acknowledging challenges of streamlining the plans, Barchok said his administration was ready to facilitate sale of tea produced by firms within the county to improve prices for both farmers and local tea firms.
“We are going to facilitate willing local firms both private and public to access the market since we do not have a processing plant as a county,” he said.
The Governor, who was accompanied by Iran Ambassador to Kenya Mr Jafar Barmaki said despite many obstacles he was determined to succeed.
Citing the recently enacted Tea Act which restricts direct sale of tea, Barchok hailed the court for granting his petition to bar the new law from prohibiting direct sales.
“The reason we are here to launch the first consignment that is heading direct to Iran is because the court upheld our petition in our quest to pitch for better prices for small scale farmers,” he stated.
The governor said Bomet being home to more than 100, 000 small scale tea growers, the direct market will help in boosting earnings, adding that due to frequent outcry over low prices there was need to look beyond Kenya Tea Development Agency and the Mombasa Auction.
“The deal that we have signed and started working on from today will see farmers earn better prices and benefit from their tea,” he said.
Barchok said it was encouraging to see how the trade deal has received a clean bill of health from the relevant authorities, thus enabling clearing and dispatch of the first consignment.
He said after starting with 84 tons of tea, they hope to increase the sale in future, possibly to more than 100 tons by close of the year.
On his part, the Iran Ambassador said concerted efforts by the county government had finally paid off.
Dr. Barmaki said the deal will open other avenues for the county, noting that with production cost being the biggest headache on tea farming, the partnership will open ways on how Iran can help in reducing the cost.
“This is the beginning of good things for the people of Bomet and in future we can partner to do value addition to other products and create alternatives for tea,” he said.
Farmer representatives led by Mr John Terer said the direct sale of tea from Bomet will open a new avenue for local tea.
Terer said the monopoly of tea by KTDA and other players should be checked.
At the same time, Dr. Barchok urged KTDA to quickly iron out their wrangles and settle down for business.
He said the ongoing trend was not healthy for business, adding that there was a risk of foreign buyers shying away due to the raging squabbles.
By Joseph Obwocha