President Uhuru Kenyatta challenges the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings (KTDA)

President Uhuru Kenyatta challenges the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings (KTDA)

President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings (KTDA) to provide a comprehensive plan to add value to 90 percent of the tea harvested in Kenya before it is exported.

The President underlined that tea producers will get the greatest profit from their labour if they improve the value of the tea they produce rather than selling it raw.

“The real future for tea is value adding 90 percent of our tea and finding direct markets from the farm to the one consuming the tea in a cup. That will be the long-term solution and that solution lies with you to set the foundation,” President Kenyatta said.

Apart from increasing tea farmers’ income, President Kenyatta stated that value addition will help create more jobs for the country’s youth.

On Saturday, the Head of State addressed directors of the smallholder tea sub-sector, announcing that this year’s tea industry performance was the best in the last five years.

He stated that the incomes of smallholder tea farmers grew by 42.4 percent from Kshs 44 billion in 2021 to Kshs 63 billion in 2022 as a result of the government’s policies.

“This is approximately an additional Kshs 18.74 billion that will be paid to tea farmers courtesy of the interventions we, as a Government, made to revitalize this sub-sector.

The President said the additional revenue, which will be paid to tea farmers, has risen by 44.6% from average earnings of Kshs 34.71 per Kg of green leaf in 2021 to an average of Kshs 50.18 in 2022.“With this performance, the average bonus payment per kilogram of green leaf in 2022 will rise by 76% from Kshs 21.07 earned last year to Kshs 37.11 in 2022,” President Kenyatta said.

Noting that the 76 percent increase is an average, the President highlighted that each tea mill will pay different rates depending on its performance, with some firms paying more than others.

President Kenyatta expressed confidence that the improved performance of the tea sub-sector this year will bolster the hopes of over 650,000 smallholder tea growers and the approximately 30 percent of Kenyans employed in the agricultural sector as a whole.

“I am confident that once the ongoing reforms are fully implemented, the tea industry will be fully revitalized for the benefit of the tea farmers and the country,” President Kenyatta said.

The President highlighted several key interventions that contributed to the increased earnings for the tea sub-sector including setting up of the minimum reserve price at the Mombasa tea auction in July 2021 that led to an increase in tea export earnings from Kshs 120 billion in 2020 to Kshs 136 billion in 2022.

“Monthly payments to tea farmers are also being done by the 1st week (by 5th of every month) as opposed to the 3rd week,” President Kenyatta said.

To improve tea farmers’ income even further, President Kenyatta authorised Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to increase fertiliser subsidies from Kshs 1 billion to Kshs 3 billion.

Speaking at the event, CS Munya stated that the government, in partnership with KTDA, is undertaking numerous other projects to boost the competitiveness of the tea sub-sector and the livelihood of Kenyan tea farmers.

Dr. David Kiarie Mburu, Chairman of the Tea Board of Kenya, praised the government for minimising the impact of the global economic slump on the Kenyan tea sector by stabilising fuel prices and lowering energy bills.

“Going forward, the Board will continue working closely with other relevant agencies to ensure the sustainability of tea farming as a meaningful source of livelihood to tea growers in the country,” Dr. Mburu said.

KTDA national Chairman David Muni Ichoho also spoke during the meeting, which included the Head of Public Service.