• KTDA has told farmers that orthodox tea will fetch better prices in the global market compared to CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea.
• According to Kenya Tea Packers, orthodox tea is produced using the traditional method of production; plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation and drying.
A statement by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, during an interview in a local TV show, that the government is considering to boost smallholder tea farmers with Sh1.6 billion for diversifying their products is light at the end of the tunnel.
Kiunjuri said a request to the government to consider extending the concessional loan to farmers so that they can put up orthodox tea production units over the next year has been tabled.
Indeed, this is one of the major milestones the government will make to cushion tea growers from low prices which have been attributed to several factors including the types of tea specialities and global market forces which cannot be controlled.
Over the years, the Kenya Tea Development Agency has informed farmers that for Kenyan tea to fetch higher prices, there is a need to venture into the processing of orthodox tea specialities which fetch higher prices in the global market. The move by the government will propel the industry, powering it to penetrate both local and international markets.
Reports by the East African Tea Trade Association show that Rwanda fetched better prices both in regional and international markets this year compared to Kenya, thanks to their orthodox mode of production, which only seven out of 68 factories managed by KTDA are now producing.
Rwanda produces averagely 30.4 million kilogrammes of tea per year compared to Kenya’s 481.3 million kg. According to the Kenya Tea Packers, orthodox tea is produced using the traditional method of production that involves plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation and drying.
Processing this high quality ‘green gold’ requires adequate resources such as trained labour and machinery for success to be achieved.