A tea factory in Gatanga Constituency, Murang'a County, has started packaging its products to penetrate the local market.
Ngere tea factory is focusing on increasing local consumption of tea in an effort to reduce its reliance on the export market.
Under the leadership of Prof Joseph Karanja and James Githinji, the factory has embarked on packaging its produce and reducing the consignment transported for auction by 200 metric tonnes.
Karanja said the factory produces 800 metric tonnes of tea per month, and 20 per cent of the produce would be sold in the local market.
"We have four brands that have been registered to be produced for the local market. We are now out to campaign for increased consumption of tea locally," said Karanja during the launch of Ngere Classic brand.
Githinji, who is the zone two regional director at the Kenya Tea Development Agency board, said they are determined to increase growers' returns through various innovations.
He said they are exploring fresh markets in South Sudan, Congo, and other African countries.
He said the payments for tea in the local market are better than those offered at the auction market.
"In the local market, a kilogramme of our tea will be sold at Sh430, while the same at the auction is Sh250 per kilogramme," said Githinji, adding that the farmers are set to reap more with no transport cost incurred by the factory.
He adds the local market has better prospects and thus the need for support from all Kenyans to support local brands.
The management of Ngere admitted to having arrived at the innovation after benchmarking at Kiru tea factory in Mathioya, which embarked in processing the orthodox teas for local and international markets.
Githinji observed that value addition is the ultimate goal that would help the growers realise better returns.
The board told the representatives from the tea buying centres that it was a major loss but the drought situation has improved owing to the ongoing rains.
"The factory registered a 19 per cent decline in production as they managed 18.1 million kilogrammes of green leaf reflecting a loss of 4.3 million kilogrammes, as compared to last year February," said Karanja.
Julius Mwangi, a farmer from Gatura, said the planned innovations for the expanded market will help the management get them more returns.
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"The reforms promised to the farmers are being realised through better markets."