The Kenya Tea Development Agency is encouraging farmers and factories under it to invest in growing and processing of orthodox tea to supplement dwindling returns derived from traditional black tea.
KTDA head of Extension Services and Agriculture Kanja Thuku says value added tea and premium teas are fetching higher on the international market hence are crucial in cushioning farmers against price volatility.
In recent months the Kenya Tea Development Agency has been under fire over dwindling bonuses it issues farmers for their tea deliveries.
While the price fall persists, the agency is now encouraging smallholder farmers to embark diversify to growing of orthodox tea and other premium teas to boost income.
Speaking during a farmer’s field day after a tour of Chinga Tea Factory in Nyeri hat has installed an orthodox tea processing line at a cost of Sh. 115 million, KTDA head of Extension Services and Agriculture, Kanja Thuku, said the new streams will help cushion farmers from the volatility of prices associated with traditional Crush Tear Curl (CTC) tea as well as tap into new international markets that are yearning for value-added and premium teas.
A mix between orthodox tea and black CTC is backed to help farmers boost their averaging income even when prices fluctuate.
Last year a kilo of orthodox tea was selling at $ 2.67 while black tea was trading at $ 3.70 at the tea auction.
Currently there are 11 factories processing orthodox tea in the country out of a total of 66 that are managed by the agency.
At the same time, stakeholders called on the relevant government bodies to provide a regulatory framework to be put in place to ensure the quality of tea being produced and offered in the market is the same across the board to safeguard farmers.