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Government roots for tea value-addition

Agriculture and Livestock development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has reiterated the government’s commitment to continuously support the tea industry and leverage on value addition.

Linturi said that the government is working towards making policies that will ensure that tea farmers get better value for their product, which will in turn fetch good revenue, once it hits the shelves in the foreign markets.

Speaking when he toured Gold Crown Foods EPZ Limited in Shimanzi, Mombasa, the CS added that engaging private investors, whose demand for processed and value-added tea remains high, will be the surest way to generate revenue and create employment in the sector.

“We are asking investors and key stakeholders to come in and invest in value addition because by their own admission, the demand they have for value added tea is very high. The only way we will meet the demand is by inviting private investors to come and put in their capital,” he said.

On his part, the Director, Global Tea & Commodities, Peter Kimanga also noted that the demand for value added products was very high in the tea markets at the moment.

He said among the challenges they were facing include, accessing the high-quality packaging material which is taxed highly at 35 percent, coupled with economic challenges bedeviling foreign markets that buy Kenyan tea in bulk.

“There is a huge demand to grasp the new foreign markets that want the value-added products and that can create more employment openings, but we need to address the policy and taxation regimes in the country in order to facilitate us to add more value to our exports,” said Kimanga.

He also noted that by expanding the local tea markets to other foreign markets, besides the main markets (Pakistan and Egypt) that are currently purchasing 60% of the tea, there will be an increase in returns to the farmers.

Some of the challenges in the sector are being addressed as a matter of urgency and are being looked into from a policy level in order to come up with solutions that will guide the sector and address the snags conclusively.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), Wilson Muthaura appealed to the government to reach out to some of the international markets they were incapable of penetrating mostly due to tariff barriers.

He also commended the government’s initiative, aimed at ensuring that farmers get an increase in their income through the value-added commodities plan.

By Andrew Hinga and Fatuma Said

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