Tea prices pick up at auction

Tea farmers can expect better returns this year after tea prices started picking up at the Mombasa Tea auction.

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Chairman Peter Kanyago  said the improved prices were a result of reduced supply occasioned by the current cold season and the fact that most farmers have pruned their tea bushes.

Mr. Kanyago, who spoke to the media at the at the Chinga Tea Factory in Nyeri County this morning, defended the Agency against accusations that it has been colluding with brokers to understate prices, and therefore robbing farmers.

There have been media reports quoting an official of the Kenya tea Board accusing the Agency of fleecing farmers.

Terming the allegations malicious, Kanyago said KTDA was one of the best run and transparent organizations in the country, and that it has always worked for the best interest of the farmers.

He said KTDA has been in consultations with the Kenya Tea Board who have reportedly disowned a report a journalist has been quoting in her reports.

Kanyago said the tea industry in Kenya, which supports the livelihoods of the families of 560,000 small scale tea growers, should be protected from the kind of politicking that have over the years made the coffee and pyrethrum sectors unstable, and therefore unable to pay farmers on time.

He added that as a result of the sound management of the tea sector, farmers have always received their payments on time.

He urged politicians to familiarize themselves with the country’s tea business before making sweeping utterances so as not to endanger the multibillion sector.

Saying that an unnamed politician recently said Kenya tea should be sold unblended, Kanyago said the politician should know that market countries have different requirements and only buy teas of certain grades.

“A country like Somalia only buys BMF which is the lowest grade of tea while Russia never buys top grade. How then can we satisfy their needs unless we make the exact blends they require”, Kanyago posed.