Stalled Sh960 million Kiptere tea factory project to resume in April

Kiptere tea farmers lawyer addresses the press at Kiptere tea banda. [Kiprono Kurgat, Standard]

Construction of the stalled Kiptere Tea Factory in Kericho County will resume in April.

The Sh960 million factory will be a satellite facility to the mega Momul Tea Factory, which was commissioned in 2002 as a two-line factory with a capacity of 15 million kilogrammes of green leaf.

According to Isaiah Langat, the Momul Tea Factory chairman, the construction should have commenced late last year.

"The construction could have started but land succession was a bit challenging," Langat said.

He said the Tea Board of Kenya met on January 26 and approved the factory's license.

The factory will be constructed on a 12-acre land in Itibet, Kiptere.

Farmers contributed Sh960,160,154 million for eight years to set up the satellite factory.

Langat noted that the satellite factory will ease congestion and wastefulness at the main factory.

Philip Maritim, a tea farmer, said they have experienced a lot of challenges as they have to wait until midnight at various tea-buying centres for KTDA trucks to pick their produce for delivery to the main factory.

He said the satellite factory would be a major boost to smallholder tea farmers in Sigowet/Soin Sub-county as it will not only ease congestion at the mother factory but also reduce costs of production and enhance earnings for farmers.

Earlier, there was push and pull over the location of the factory, with farmers from Seretet Zone wanting the factory to be put up in the area while those from Kiptere also wanted it to be in their area. Farmers from Seretet Zone had taken the dispute to court.

However, the High Court ordered the two parties to settle the matter out of court, and they agreed to put up a factory on each of the two zones (Kiptere and Seretet).

The board of directors agreed that the first factory to be built was Kiptere, and once it is completed, the other factory at Seretet Zone will also be put up.

During the 2013 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Momul Tea Factory, tea farmers agreed to have monthly deductions of Sh2 and Sh3 per kilogramme in the final payment of bonuses.

This was to be used in the construction of new tea factory in an area that was to deliver high production of the green leaf.

Kiptere Zone qualified, having produced over 36 million kilogrammes of tea, and took the lead by raising Sh183.8 million.

Kamaso Zone produced 30.34 million kilogrammes of green tea to raise Sh151.7 million, Kebeneti Zone produced 30.31 million kilos to raise Sh151.5 million, while Kabianga produced 9.8 million kilos to raise Sh49.4 million.

According to farmers, the Chemamul Zone was not on the list for the location of a new factory since it hosts the Momul Factory, which produced 30.5 million kilos of green leaf to raise Sh152.9 million.

The factory, which is dedicated to the production of orthodox teas and black CTC, will be significant to the tea sub-sector and the country at large because of the role it will play in product diversification.

"The government has made deliberate efforts to promote product diversification, particularly the production of orthodox and specialty teas to reduce over-reliance on black CTC teas,” Langat said. 

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