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Climate change blamed for 100 million kgs tea loss

The Kenya Tea Development Agency management has announced that 37 tea factories in East of Rift spread in Kiambu, Muranga, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Meru and Embu counties have lost 100 million kilogrammes of tea as a result of climate change which took a toll on agriculture.

While addressing the 225 directors drawn from the 37 tea factories in Mt. Kenya at Embu, KTDA Chairman David Ichoho said that the drought experienced during the first half of the year occasioned by climate change had taken a toll on tea farming in Mt. Kenya resulting to a loss of 100 million kilogrammes of tea.

The KTDA chair said that Kenya is targeting to increase its valued tea percentage from the current 5 per cent to 50 per cent in the next 5 years so as to sell more tea.

He said their meeting in Embu was informed by the reforms that KTDA is undertaking in order to improve production in the tea factories adding that all the 37 tea factories spread across Mt. Kenya and the 225 directors of the companies had endorsed the KTDA Management Structure (MS).

Kenya Tea Development Agency [KTDA] Chairman David Ichoho addressing the press in Embu after meeting with directors from the 37 tea factories in Mt. Kenya. Photo by Justus Anzaya
“Most of the companies have agreed to continue with KTDA Management Structure (MS) being their management function,” said the KTDA chair.

He said that by the tea factories embracing the KTDA Management Structure will ensure that it brings down the management fee of the tea factories from Sh2.5 million to Sh1.5 million and also to ensure that all the tea regions produce quality tea.

The KTDA management disclosed that there has been high demand in the International Markets for Kenya’s orthodox tea.

The KTDA chair added that they were in the process of initiating a programme to ensure that tea farmers in the various factories across the country would be supported to venture into the processing of orthodox tea to increase their income and also for Kenya to meet the International Markets’ demand.

”Orthodox tea which include oolong, green, white or black tea have a high demand and KTDA has sourced for markets that require more than 2 million kilos annually,” he said.

He noted that over 95 per cent of locally produced tea is exported while only five per cent is consumed locally, which he said exposed the produce to global market fluctuations.

The chairman stated that already, the reforms being undertaken by the KTDA were aimed at ensuring that the farmers reap big from their sweat.

Ichoho said among the changes they need to initiate is to have a harmonized draft that would take care of the needs of the farmers and improve on the workforce of all the tea factories.

He said manufacturing of tea and management needed expertise to undertake such duties saying financial system management was an issue that they were taking into consideration to ensure proper harnessing of farmers’ resources.

The KTDA boss further said in effecting the reforms, there were a number of challenges that they were facing including court cases that were plotted by some parties challenging some KTDA decisions.

KTDA Board Director Enos Njeru said many tea buyers were now eyeing the orthodox market to buy the produce and that is why they were squaring everything to shift to the orthodox market to ensure farmers fetch a lot of money. ”Before the end of this year we shall have shifted to orthodox tea market,” he said.

The KTDA management also revealed that the Sh16 that had been deducted from the farmers to facilitate subsidized fertilizer per kilo was wrongly deducted.

By Justus Anzaya

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