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Tea farmers reap Sh 114 billion income

Tea earned farmers countrywide a record Sh114 billion last year, this is according to the Director of Tea Research Institute, Dr John Bole.

The handsome earnings have been attributed to hard work by the farmers, high production delivered that year, favourable climate as well as high prices in the market.

Research on tea has been credited for a significant contribution to the increased productivity and quality of the produce.

Dr Bole however lamented that Kenyans were poor tea consumers yet they produce the best commodity in the world.

He noted that 95 per cent of Kenyan tea is exported while 5 per cent is consumed locally.

“Our citizens do not consume their own tea which is the best globally.They should start taking tea and be proud of their own produce,” Dr Bole said on Saturday at Kangaita Tea Research Farm in Kirinyaga County during a field day for farmers.

Hundreds of farmers travelled from as far as Rift-valley, Eastern and Central regions to the area to learn about research on tea and proper crop husbandry.

Former Member of Parliament, Mr Hosea Kiplang’at was among the prominent tea farmers attended the event.

TEA VARIETIES

Dr Bole disclosed that the Institute has developed 53 high yielding tea clones (varieties) which are resistant to disease and drought.

He advised the farmers to plant the new varieties to continue producing even higher yields which would benefit them.

Dr Bole told the farmers that the Tea Research Institute has developed tea technologies which have significantly contributed to making the Kenyan tea industry more competitive and sustainable.

“We have developed and disseminated technologies including improved tea clones that have increased tea yields from 1,500 kg to 3,300 kg of made tea per hectare per year on large estates and from 600 kg to 2,300kg annually under the smallholder production system,” he said.

The County deputy commissioner, Mr Joshua Marete advised farmers to start growing purple tea which fetches higher prices in the international market.

He said purple tea variety has already been developed by by the (TRI) and they should go for it.

Purple tea is of high value considering the fact that the world market for black tea is anticipated to shrink in future.

Mr Marete urged the farmers to continue to diversify its products in addition to value adding.