•Chai Trading Companies Limited, a subsidiarity of KTDA, is currently on a charm-offensive to secure more market for orthodox teas.
•Orthodox teas fetch higher prices of up to $5 (Sh513 ) per kilo, compared to the average $2 (Sh 205) a kilo of CTC is currently selling at, at the the Mombasa Tea Auction.
Kenya Tea Development Agency (KDTA) is now pushing to have 10 factories process orthodox tea to diversify production and penetrate new markets.
The move is expected to help reduce over-reliance on the traditional black tea , whose over production has led to low earnings.
Chai Trading Companies Limited, a subsidiarity of KTDA, is currently on a marketing campaign for orthodox teas.
There are currently seven factories, out of the 66 operational tea factories under the KTDA, processing orthodox tea.
They are Gitugi Tea Factory in Othaya, Kangaita Tea Factory, Kiru Tea Factory in Mathioya, Thumaita Tea Factory, Chinga Tea Factory, Emrok Tea Factory and Imenti.
“In the next two years, we should have ten up and running then as we grow in the market , we increase to 15 and above,” said Charles Mbui, managing director-Chai Trading Company Limited.
The company is currently marketing orthodox tea in key markets of Russia, US and Iran.
“We want to get it right,” Mbui told the Star.
Orthodox teas fetch higher prices of up to $5 (Sh513 ) per kilo, compared to the average $2 (Sh 205) a kilo of CTC is currently selling at, at the the Mombasa Tea Auction.
“We believe as we continue to diversify into other teas, we will be able to give the farmers better returns,” Mbui said.
Expanding to orthodox is likely to address oversupply of CTC which is this year expected to hit a high of 510 million kilos, up from 454 million kilos last year and 488 million kilos the previous year.
“We are overproducing black tea,” said Vincent Mwingiriwi, head of sales and customer services-KTDA.
The high volumes of tea being availed for auction have led to low prices, which means farmers should not expect much this year.
“It is simply the forces of supply and demand, we expect prices to remain subdued,” said Brian Ngwiri, trade development manager at the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA).
According to KTDA, over 600,000 small-scale tea farmers are likely to earn less in the current financial year (2019/20)as a result of global oversupply.
“we must diversify to other teas rather than just concentrating on producing CTC black tea,” said Mbui, “Diversifying will help improve farmers' earnings.”
Orthodox tea is currently sold directly to the buyers, which according to KTDA, is the best way to market a new product as it allows buyer-seller consultation which helps in addressing any challenges.