The Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives, Peter Munya on Tuesday presided over the official launch of the Matunwa Tea Factory, a satellite of Nyansiongo Tea Factory in Nyamira County.
The factory, which is dedicated to the production of orthodox teas, will be significant to the tea sub-sector and the country at large because of the role it will play in product diversification.
Speaking during the launch, Munya said the inauguration of the factory will be a major boost to small holder tea farmers in Nyamira County as it will not only ease congestion at the mother factory, but also reduce costs of production and enhance earnings for the farmers.
“The government has made deliberate efforts to promote product diversification, particularly the production of orthodox and specialty teas in order to reduce overreliance on black CTC teas,” he said.
The factory has a processing capacity of over 800,000 kilograms metric tonnes and is expected to enhance the country’s production of orthodox teas to over 2.8 million kilograms in the immediate future, thereby contributing to the goal of processing over 10 million kilograms of orthodox teas by 2025.
Munya added the government through the Tea Board of Kenya has issued licenses to another 10 Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) managed factories to establish orthodox processing lines as part of promoting product diversification.
The CS noted the government is currently implementing market development activities in orthodox tea markets like Russia, China, UAE, Iran, Iraq, Poland and Germany to promote Kenya orthodox teas.
KTDA National Chairman, David Ichoho, said the opening of this seventy-first tea factory was a great achievement and thanked the government for continuously supporting the tea sector.
“The farmers and the entire leadership of KTDA applaud you for this great deed. In the spirit of new tea reforms, the KTDA leadership led by the Board has continued to embrace the new reforms geared towards improving service delivery and earnings to the tea farmers,” said Ichoho.
The Chairman noted the new tea factory, which is the second one that is processing orthodox tea in the region, will enhance service delivery to the farmers in Nyamira and cater for over 5,000 tea farmers.
“This is the only stand-alone factory in KTDA exclusively producing orthodox tea and we are happy that the experience garnered from its operation will help us roll out orthodox policing under factories managed by KTDA,” added Ichoho.
He noted the sale of orthodox tea has witnessed a significant increase this year and the last three months saw an upward increase of 37% compared to the same time last year.
The Chairman pointed out that they were working on market diversification in order to stabilize farmers’ earnings and reduce the risk of market dependency and market concentration.
Ichoho said KTDA was determined to improve the quality of tea the factories are producing by improving capacity adding that whenever a factory processing capacity is overstretched, quality is definitely compromised.
He noted that Matunwa Tea Factory will play a critical role in improving the quality of tea produced by the mother factory and other factories within the catchment area.
Further, Ichoho lauded the government for providing fertilizer subsidy to farmers last year and appealed to the CS to continue supporting tea farmers by reducing the cost of production to tea inputs that, in turn, affect the earnings of the farmers.
He urged the government and diplomatic missions abroad to support the tea farmers in market expansion since some of the markets require government-to-government engagements.
Kenya is the largest exporter of black CTC teas which have been facing a glut in the global market in the last decade. In 2022, out of the 537 million kilograms of teas produced in the country, only 2 million kilograms was orthodox teas.
However, trends in tea prices in the last 10 years have shown that orthodox teas have been fetching better prices than black CTC.
By Mercy Osongo and Deborah Bochere