Tea factory eyes local market to increase earnings

Agriculture Counties Editor's Pick Murang'a

Ngere Tea Factory in Gatanga Sub-county of Murang’a, has commenced packaging and branding of 20 per cent of its product for sale in the local market.

The Factory Board aims at increasing its earnings by selling part of its production in the local market.

This move will see the factory stop depending on selling its goods through the Mombasa Tea Auction, a process which is often affected by fluctuation in international prices.

The factory, allied to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), produces more than 800, 000 kilos of tea per month which is sold through auction.

Chairperson of the factory, Joseph Karanja, speaking when launching the project, said they will be packaged as low as 20 grams of tea leaves, targeting small earners.

The packaged product, branded as Highland Classic tea, according to Karanja was a way of doing value addition, noting that a kilo of the branded tea, will now be selling at Sh400 in the local market.

“Our farmers need more earnings, but solely selling our production through the Mombasa Auction Centre cannot bring us much income, considering the prices there sometimes slump to about US 2.40 and USD 4 per kilo,” he stated.

The Chairperson continued, “through auction, we are at the mercy of the global market, which keeps on changing depending on various factors. Kenyans use tea and as a factory we want our commodity to be sold locally,”

Karanja added that the local market will help the factory get a consistent price that will enable them to stabilize their cash flow, while giving farmers a guaranteed return.

The factory has more than 9, 000 active farmers who deliver their green leaf in the facility.

The Chairperson observed that the climate change that has caused prolonged drought, has seen farmers’ earnings dwindle in the recent past, underscoring the need to come-up with measures that will ensure farmers benefit from their hard work.

He added that the factory plans to roll-out several brands of tea, targeting both local and international markets.

“We have done a survey to guide us on the type of tea Kenyans want. We will have several brands of premium tea being branded and packaged for international markets,” he asserted.

Karanja stated, “Kenyans now have a chance of tasting our own tea and once they do, they will not regret it. We have packaged it in small packages, to make it accessible to Kenyans of all walks of life.”

He added that due to the high quality tea produced by local farmers, the demand for the same was high and that it had buyers who exclusively buy it at the Auction.

Meanwhile, the project is in line with the government’s plan to boost value addition, with a view to empowering farmers, who have for a long time contended with meager pay.

Chairman of KTDA, David Ichoho, who graced the occasion hailed the move by Ngere factory, to do value addition of their tea.

He said the move will not only enable the factory to increase its earnings, but will also create employment opportunities for the youth.

By Bernard Munyao

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