Farmers allied to Kiru Tea Factory in Murang’a want their tea to be branded in the hope that it would fetch better returns.
During the factory’s Annual General Meeting held on Monday, the farmers decried selling of their tea in bulk at the Mombasa auction saying it was less profitable.
They told the factory’s management to come up with measures which would see their tea hit the market while branded.
The demand by farmers was triggered by reduced bonus which was paid this year due to fluctuation of international prices occasioned by political instability in some countries.
Bulk tea which is auctioned at Mombasa, the farmers argued, is being branded by the buyers where they earn more returns.
Kiru is one of the 10 factories within Murang’a County which are under management by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
The farmers noted that they can end their contract with KTDA and start marketing their tea individually.
“As our board, we need you to work out a strategy that will ensure most of the tea we produce does not go through the Mombasa auction where tea prices are mostly never favorable,” Francis Kamau, a farmer, told the factory’s management.
He said branding the tea locally would also create more employment opportunities to Kenyans as more sales people among other workers would be need.
Last year, the factory established a Sh.100 million plant to process specialized tea with the aim to venturing into the European market.
The Chairman of the factory, Stephen Githiga said the diversification of the tea has started to increase returns for the farmers.
About 10 percent of the green leaf supplied in the factory is currently being processed into various products of specialized tea.
“Production of orthodox tea in our factory is aimed to increase income for the farmers. Various products of orthodox tea are selling well in European market,” added Githiga.
He noted that several of measures have been employed to improve farmers’ payments, including products diversification.
Githiga pointed out that the specialized tea that includes green and purple tea has acquired a market in Russia, Iran and Iraq and that the factory was making efforts to penetrate the European market.
By Bernard Munyao