The Tea Board of Kenya has announced that small scale tea farmers countrywide will receive their bonus pay out by July 10, 2022 in line with the tea reforms introduced in the Act 2020.
The Act made provisions for the balance due to the tea grower to be fully remitted within three months of the end of the financial year. The bonus is projected to be the highest-paid to tea farmers across the tea-growing counties since 2016.
Speaking during the International Tea Day in Kericho, the Tea Board of Kenya Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peris Mudida also assured tea farmers that the government was in the process of introducing fertilizers subsidies that would bring some reprieve and help in higher tea production.
Mudida pointed out that the government understands that the tea sub-sector is very crucial to the country’s economy and the leading foreign exchange earner contributing 23 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings.
She said the sub-sector supports the livelihood of over 6 million Kenyans and the government is doing all it can to ensure the sector thrives profitably.
“Currently in Kenya, we produce a volume of 38.4 million kgs of tea per year which is still very low in terms of percentage we are at about 7-8 percent of our production but we are growing. A few years ago, we were at about 4 percent,” she said.
During the International Tea Day celebrations, the Board also launched the Tea Masters Cup in Kenya which is an international tournament among tea masters project for people who work with tea or are tea enthusiasts and are willing to expand their horizons and realize that valuable professional assets are not places, technologies or ideas, but people who could become or were already like-minded.
“We have launched a tea competition for Kenyans to also participate in the global tournament with the aim of upscaling the way we prepare tea the way we mix tea, the way we produce tea, and expose our stakeholders to world-class preparation and production of tea,” said Mudida.
In the Tea Masters Cup tournament, participants take part in the following categories; tea preparation where participants compete in the skill of preparing and serving pure tea and tea pairing where contestants compete in the skill of creating gastronomic compositions based on tea.
The other category in the competition is the tea tasting which engages participants to compete in the skill of memorizing and recognizing tasted teas and ingredients of multicomponent tea-based beverages. The final category in the tournament is tea mixology where participants compete in the skill of preparing and serving tea-based mixes.
“With this competition, our tea stakeholders will be exposed to the international market and how they do their branding and marketing,” she said.
“Late last year, we sent a team to Iran which has a very big population and it is one of the markets that we want to explore and if we are able to get even just five percent of the Iranian market, that will be a big boost to Kenya because Iran partakes a lot of tea,” said Mudida.
According to the Kericho County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of Agriculture Phillip Mason, Kericho County has for years enjoyed a significant income from the tea crop which amounts to over Sh10 billion per year from the over 75,000 small-scale growers on 18,000 hectares of land.
According to the United Nations, tea is the most consumed drink after water that could bring health benefits and wellness due to the beverage’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and weight loss effects.
By Kibe Mburu and Sharon Chepkoech