KTDA should do more for tea farmers, says CS Kiunjuri

Cartels blamed for frustrating government's effort to reform the tea sector

In Summary

• Global tea production is 5.8 billion kilos while demand is currently 5.6 billion kilos resulting in a 200 million kilos surplus.

• Kenya is the leading exporter of black CTC teas in the world accounting for about 23 per cent of the global exports with KTDA accounting for about 13 per cent.

Farmers picking tea in Kangaita village
Farmers picking tea in Kangaita village
Image: FILE

The Kenya Tea Development Authority should support farmers to make profits from their labour, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has said. 

Kiunjuri said that the authority should stay true to its core mandate and not frustrate farmers.

“Is KTDA executing its core mandate of marketing tea for the farmers or is it concentrating more in expanding mandate?

“Have you invested more on what can give farmers more money or you have invested in other things that do not benefit the farmer?” he asked.

The CS spoke yesterday at the Africa Productivity Conference ongoing at the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation headquarters.

Kiunjuri called for measures to cushion farmers against low prices following a glut in global tea production.

He said KTDA should encourage the production of specialty teas which are fetching better prices at the global market.

“KTDA and other players should focus on diversification because today, the price of orthodox tea is going for Sh300 and above while black tea is Sh240. The question is, where did the rain start beating us?” he said.

Kiunjuri said KTDA should also ensure automation of the Mombasa auction as authorised by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014.

He asked the authority to be accountable on how elections of the directors are conducted and to adhere to the tea task force report. 

On Monday, a court ordered an audit of 10 KTDA affiliated factories in Muranga county.

The CS called for intensified mapping and soil testing to guide farmers on what and when to plant to maximise income.