A tea director in Kirinyaga County has commended Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya for his bold move to set minimum reserved price for processed tea at the auction market in Mombasa.
Nahashon Ngari, representing Mununga Tea Factory, Ndia Constituency, said the initiative was aimed at cushioning smallholder farmers adding, “Setting standard tea prices will guard farmers from incurring losses.” CS Peter Munya had raised the alarm over declining tea prices at the auction.
Ngari also said the directors should now focus on sensitizing farmers in their zones the importance of plucking best quality tea in order to attract better market price after processing.
“Our role now as directors is to educate the farmers on the need of plucking quality tea to increase the price from a minimum of 2.4 dollars to over 4 dollars per kilo like in Rwanda. We have for long focused on the quantity we get from our plantation but now we have to focus on quality as well to fetch good earnings from tea,” he said.
On the cost of production, he echoed CS Munya’s proposal of cutting the cost, especially on logistics and storage. He said tea can be stored in upcountry warehouses and transported when the market is ready through cheaper means like Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
“Instead of transporting our tea to Mombasa where it may take up to three months to be sold, we can store it in warehouses within our regions. We can transport it when the market is ready through alternative affordable modes like SGR,” he proposed.
Munya is on record promising government’s support in ensuring the reduction of farm inputs costs and costs associated with storage, transportation logistics, and port handling.
Ngari further said going forward, each of the factory will be paid according to the quality of the tea they produced unlike when all factories were paid from a unified account. “These reforms will see each factory get what they deserve. Produce quality tea and get a higher price for it,” he added.
By Mutai Kipngetich