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Gov’t determined to ensure small scale tea farmers benefit from their sweat, DP Gachagua

The government is determined to improve tea sector productivity and earnings for local smallholder farmers who have remained at the bottom of the pyramid despite tea being one of the largest foreign exchange earners in the country.

Speaking Thursday morning during the official opening of the Tea Reforms Conference in Kericho, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua was concerned that small scale tea farmers had no power to determine the price yet tea was a much-sought commodity across the globe even when sold in raw form.

The DP further observed that the small-scale farmers struggled economically yet they are the ones who invest much of their resources, efforts and time into production of the precious commodity.

“In spite of Kenya producing distinct flavours of tea, the market does not have the best interest of the farmer, and in this conference, we need to explore lasting legal policy administrative and operational strategy that will return the tea money to where it belongs, to the farmer,” stressed Gachagua.

He promised the stakeholders at the tea conference that the government will adopt the reforms agreed on at the forum.

The Deputy President also mentioned that tea has been posting positive results despite uncertainties in major markets like Russia and Pakistan adding that the price of 100 kilograms of tea increased to Sh29,000 in 2022 from Sh23,000 the previous year, an increase of Sh294 per kilo.

The DP pointed out that the international market size for tea remained healthy and was projected to grow by up to 6.7 percent by 2031, exceeding USD 93.2 billion, as consumption of black tea alone which Kenya produces most is expected to grow by over 2% in the next decade.

Meanwhile Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi who also graced the first day of the tea reforms conference assured that the Government would put interventions to ensure farmers get better prices for tea and an increase in production.

The two-day conference being held at the Kericho Golf Club seeks to consolidate views from stakeholders on tea reforms around production, processing, marketing, sales and governance in order to address the bottlenecks that hindered small holder farmers from prospering despite their commodity competing favourable at the global market.

Other leaders present at the forum include Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, Kericho County Dr Eric Mutai, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, among other dignitaries from Kericho and guests from other counties.

By Kibe Mburu

 

 

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