Governor Fernandes Barasa initiates team to revive stalled Sh300m tea factory

Kakamega Governor Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kakamega County government has unveiled plans to rejuvenate the stagnant Kakamega Global Tea factory located in Madala village, Shinyalu sub-county.

Governor Fernandes Barasa is currently in the process of assembling a project implementation committee that will assess the project's status and present a comprehensive report on the revival of the Sh300 million factory.

Anticipated to conclude within six months, the committee's findings will pave the way for the resumption of construction work on the dormant facility by the following year. In the current fiscal year, an allocation of Sh100 million has been dedicated to the project. The tea factory was one of the flagship initiatives of former Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

Originating in 2017 under Oparanya's leadership, the factory experienced two relaunches before his departure from office. Regrettably, little progress has been made on-site apart from the installation of fencing, leaving the compound overgrown with grass.

Governor Barasa has designated his deputy, Ayub Savula, to lead the revival efforts for the factory, which has become a visual blight in the region. Frustrated residents have previously organized demonstrations to compel the county government to take action, especially considering the promised employment opportunities.

The governor asserts his commitment to revitalizing the factory, thereby bolstering the economic well-being of the people in Shinyalu. "The team has six months to draft a proposal for Cabinet consideration, establish a supplementary budget, engage in public participation, and adhere to all relevant regulations in order to resuscitate the factory," explained Barasa.

Spanning an 8-acre parcel, this initiative requires swift action given the long-held aspirations of Shinyalu's populace. "We must expedite these deliberations because the residents of Shinyalu have earnestly awaited progress on this project,” emphasized the governor.

The Standard has gathered that the tea company will adopt a hybrid structure, incorporating contributions from tea farmers and financial support from the county government. Savula highlighted that the company will rely on the key tea-producing constituencies of Shinyalu, Ikolomani, and Khwisero to bolster its operations.

"We are dedicated to increasing tea cultivation in these three constituencies to enhance efficiency," Savula asserted. "Kenya is renowned for producing drought-resistant purple tea, which commands favorable prices in the global market. We are committed to supplying farmers with seedlings and other essential resources so that the factory can recommence operations by early January next year."

Initially designed to accommodate two parallel processing machines for black and orthodox tea, the factory encountered a hurdle when the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) stipulated that the county must produce a minimum of five million tonnes of tea annually before obtaining a license.

As of 2020, the county had already invested Sh25 million in tea development, distributing over 375,000 seedlings to farmers.