Upcoming private tea factory poised to give KTDA stiff competition

Efforts to establish a private tea factory in Murang’a County are at an advanced stage following a ground breaking for its construction on Tuesday.

Kiriti Tea Factory, to be constructed at Kagongo area in upper parts of Mathioya, was expected to give Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) a stiff competition once operational.

A section of tea farmers from Mathioya have praised the move saying they would be able to market their tea without unnecessary restrictions.

Officials of the new facility led by lawyer, Charles Kihara (Chairman) and Kirubi Kamau (Vice Chairman) said the factory would cost Sh.130 million and it would be completed within a period of four months.

Kihara said they have already imported the factory’s equipment from China after they obtained license from Agriculture Food and Fisheries Authority (AFFA).

The new factory, to be under Highlands Tea Company, has also gotten support from tea farmers from Kangema.

Kihara said the idea to establish a private factory was conceived two years ago after farmers affiliated to Mutunguru tea buying centre in Kanyenyaini boycotted plucking their green leaf citing the green leaf supply agreement they were being forced to sign by KTDA.

Kihara said action by Mutunguru farmers made a few elites from the area to work towards establishment of their processing facility.

He further revealed they have started to source for markets for their tea saying local farmers would benefit greatly from the facility.

KTDA manages 10 tea factories within Murang’a County which were located along the region neighbouring Aberdare forest.

Speaking during the same occasion, a tea researcher, Michael Gakungu said tea production in Mount Kenya region was very low.

Gakungu noted most of tea bushes produced less than a kilo of green leaf per bush against the expected three kilos per bush adding necessary extension services needed to be offered for improved production.

In parts of Rift Valley, a bush produces between three and four kilos of green leaf, he added.

He revealed that potential in production of the green leaf in the country was yet to be exploited to the maximum as it accounted for only 40 percent.

Gakungu challenged the local farmers to embark on increasing tea production so to feed the capacity of the new factory.

Source: Kenya News Agency