• Munya says the government will draft a law that will compel factories to package and brand their tea for export.
• He says branding tea will help retain its originality and increase earnings.
The national government will help tea factories package and brand their tea to fetch better prices in the international market.
Trade CS Peter Munya on Friday said adding value to tea grown locally will also help it retain its originality and traceability.
Munya spoke at Kanyenya-ini tea factory during the graduation of 162 farmers who had gone through a one-year training on crop husbandry and diversification.
The training will help farmers increase the quality and quantity of their tea while diversifying their agricultural activities.
Munya cited Sri Lanka as making more money than Kenya, yet it produces a third less tea than Kenya.
The CS said during a benchmarking tour to the Asian country he was shocked to learn that farmers make 40 per cent more income after adding value to their tea.
“Sri Lanka has made it mandatory for factories to package and brand their tea before exportation and those who do not are slapped with a 10 per cent tax. Over 80 per cent of its exported tea is packaged,” Munya said.
He said locally, only five per cent of tea is packaged and branded. It is then sold in the local market, while the rest is exported in bulk.
Despite being the best tea worldwide, he said, international buyers brand it and make the money that should be earned by local farmers.
Buyers do not package it as Kenyan tea so it loses its identity and traceability, the CS added.
“The consumers they sell to are socialised to love the foreign brand yet it is Kenyan tea,” Munya added, noting that packaging and branding will make a big difference in pricing and marketing of the produce.
Munya said though the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has done well in processing local tea, the sector has stagnated in terms of marketing and earnings, and only value addition can thrust it forward.
He said the government would draft a policy to support the packaging and branding of tea and penalise those who fail to.
Munya said the government can support tea factories to invest in the necessary machines for value addition.
The CS also pledged to make a proposal to the government to support factories to venture more in orthodox tea that fetches more money as a way of diversification.
The orthodox tea entails green, purple and black tea that has a delicate flavour but most local factories produce Cutting, Tearing and Curling (CTC) tea.
Munya also said that the government is in the process of restructuring Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) to enable it to effectively provide subsidised inputs to farmers.
He warned private factories that have been engaging in tea hawking to invest in mechanisms that support farmers or lose their licences.
Munya said it was wrong for companies to invest in elaborate value-chains for farmers and then buy farm-gate tea.
“We are trying to bring up companies that have the right structures and competition rules that must be adhered to so as not to undermine the efforts of other institutions,” he said.