Farmers say local tea pricing unfair

Regulators have been urged to control the quality and pricing of Kenya’s made tea at the Mombasa auction.

Stakeholders called for fair competition for prices based on the quality of processed tea for export.

Joseph Lagat, a director with Siret Tea company in Nandi - one of the country’s leading tea-producing regions - said Kenya produces the best quality processed tea but is made to unfairly compete with producers of lower quality tea from other Eastern Africa countries.

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“Tea agency (Kenya Tea Development Agency) and East Africa Tea Trade Organisation should take samples of made tea from producing East African countries and come up with standard grading systems that also determines export prices to curb any form of exploitation,” said Mr Lagat in an interview.

He said some secondary grades of processed tea from some regional countries being auctioned in Mombasa are allegedly pulling down prices for local producers. “About 85 per cent of Kenyan processed tea auctioned in Mombasa are top grades of PF1 and PD that fetches $3–$4 per kilo. Products from other regional countries do not match the quality but compete for the same market,” said Lagat.

He urged the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to check on the quality of made teas for the global market, noting that those from other regions, were ‘lower’ in quality. Lagat further noted that some European countries import Kenyan tea for blending owing to its good quality and wondered why the produce fetches lower returns at the auction.

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Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda and Ethiopia are among the countries that auction their tea in Mombasa.

Lagat welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s calls for the restructuring of KTDA in his recent state of the nation address.

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“There is need to give farmers fair prices in the tea sub-sector so that they can expand and boost foreign exchange earnings to the country,” said Lagat.  

John Tega, a director at Chebut Tea Factory said tea prices are still very low and urged the government to identify new markets.

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Kenya Tea Development AgencyTea Farmers