Factory acquires Sh20 million drier for orthodox tea

Workers sorting tea at Chinga Tea Factory in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Smallholder tea growers are expected to earn more from their orthodox produce after Chinga Tea Factory in Othaya, Nyeri county, acquired an ultra-modern drying machine to boost efficiency.

The Sh20 million machine which is currently being installed can process 600 kilograms of tea per hour and is expected to start operating by the end of this month.

The factory plans to assist farmers explore the growing market of orthodox tea globally.

From its inception in 1963, the factory was manufacturing Black CTC tea, until 2019 when it installed an orthodox production line.

The factory’s production manager Wilson Waithaka said the new machine will enhance the firm’s current capacity of processing 20 million kilogrammes of green leaf annually.

“We are in the process of installing the new drier which can process 600 kilogrammes of orthodox tea per hour. This will enable us to run the factory within shorter hours, minimise costs of production and improve efficiency,” Waithaka told The Standard.

“Orthodox has its niche consumers and it is in high demand in many parts of the world. Since we introduced the orthodox production line, we have gradually been increasing the payment to our farmers,” he added.

Ann Munge, a smallholder tea farmer, said the drier will encourage them to increase production and boost their incomes.

“With this new development, we are looking forward to growing more tea on our farms. The management of this factory has played a big role in putting in place modern machinery meant to assist us. We will get more money,” Munge said.

The factory’s board chairman Edward Kiberi said introducing the orthodox tea line has helped the management to give farmers better pay over the years.

“This drier machine cost us approximately Sh20 million. It will help us fetch more money from the orthodox produce whose production has led to increased bonus payment to our farmers from Sh19 per kilogram in 2021 to Sh32 in 2022 and Sh41 in 2023,” Kiberi said.

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