Tea players raise red flag over climate change and double taxes in tea sector
By Lucas Ng'asike | May 19th 2016
Climate change and high taxes are likely to affect tea earnings in future and thus contribute to decrease of Kenya share in the global market, government and industry key players have warned.
Even though the sector earned the country Sh125.25 Billion from export in 2015, recording the highest ever export earning of the year, a 25 per cent tax imposed on Tea has meant less money in the farmer's pocket.
There is also growing concern that the crop may face serious challenges in the global market owing to management of the value chain.
The CS Agriculture Willy Bett raised a red flag that climate change will pose a threat to tea production in the Country adding that tea players should come up with a better strategy to save the industry further.
Addressing tea stakeholder forum at city hotel in Nairobi Monday , Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary CS Bett assured tea farmers that the government will put measures to mitigate major problems affecting Kenya tea industry.
"We want to achieve a fair value chain of the crop that will see farmers benefit fairly. We will adopt better strategies to market our tea locally. The tea sector has continued to be the leading foreign exchange earner and source of economic livelihoods of the tea farmers in the country. We will address the vulnerability that affects the tea sector by ensuring that the recent resolution of the taskforce that was formed to look into issues implemented them," Mr.Bett said.
Bett said they will launch a global market campaign aimed at increasing levels of consumption of Kenya black tea in the country even as locals consume only 3 percent of Kenya's black tea.
He said the industry has noted an increase of 23 percent from Sh101.11 Billion recorded in 2014 to 125.25 Billion in 2015.He said earning from domestic market stood at Sh14.6 Billion, a 7 percent of the total cost, taking the total industry earning to 139.85 Billion.
The CS said Kenya has earned recognition in her leading role as African and global tea Industry.
He said the will be hosting the 22nd session of Food and Agriculture Organization Inter-Governmental Group (FAO-IGG) on tea conference on 25th to 27th may 2016 at Enashipai Resort and Spa in Naivasha.
Malawi High Commissioner Perks Ligoya expressed dissatisfaction that Kenyan tea farmers have fallen vulnerable to high taxes than their counterparts in East African regions like Rwanda and Uganda who are not taxed.
He said a meeting in Naivasha will must address search issues to break the string of tea 'mafias' who exploit farmers.
"I come from the tea growing district in my Country.It's unfair to impose a 25 percent taxes to tea farmers making them difficult to achieve the value of their market product. I am not an expert in tea industry, but I'm told by some experts in the industry that Kenyans tea is the most taxed crop here," Ligoya said.
The diplomat said his Country will next week send five delegates to Naivasha to attend IGG forum.
FAO Country representative said climate change will in future affect tea production in East African region.
Mr Allport said tea production and quality will drop to 55 percent even as global demand increases in 2050 adding that corruption in tea sector must be addressed.
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