In a visionary stride towards increasing the earnings of tea farmers, the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA)-managed factories have ventured into the production of high-value orthodox tea. Orthodox tea, renowned for its whole-leaf and intricate processing methods, presents a compelling contrast to the commonly consumed black Cut, Tear, and Curl (CTC) tea in Kenya. This strategic shift in tea production is not only capturing the interest of local factories but is also carving a lucrative niche in the global market.
Orthodox Tea: The Art of Craftsmanship
Orthodox tea is a masterpiece of tea craftsmanship, meticulously crafted through gradual rolling and drying techniques, resulting in a diverse range of twists and styles. Unlike the ubiquitous CTC tea, orthodox tea’s intricate preparation process yields a tea experience that is rich, flavorful, and unparalleled. This uniqueness is what has caught the attention of tea enthusiasts around the world, driving an increasing demand for orthodox tea on the international stage.
A Growing Global Demand
Ms. Agnes Munene, a senior KTDA officer, emphasized the growing demand for orthodox tea, leading to significant profits for factories. She stated, “Factories are getting billions of shillings out of the sale of orthodox; in fact, trade in orthodox should be encouraged.” This resounding endorsement of orthodox tea as a lucrative commodity underscores the immense potential it holds for the tea industry in Kenya.
Thumaita Tea Factory: Pioneering Success
One shining example of this transformative shift is the Thumaita Tea Factory in Kirinyaga County. Under KTDA management, this factory embraced orthodox tea production last year, processing an impressive five million kilograms of orthodox tea out of the 22 million kilograms of tea leaves it produced. The results were nothing short of astonishing.
Mr. Isaack Kariuki, the vice-chairman of Thumaita Tea Factory, revealed that one kilogram of orthodox tea fetched an impressive price of KSh675 (US$4.65), whereas an equivalent quantity of CTC tea was sold for KSh420 (US$2.89). These higher returns from orthodox tea have not only invigorated the factory but have also incentivized further expansion of its orthodox tea production. Mr. Kariuki expressed unwavering optimism about the future prospects of this venture, recognizing the substantial returns it offers to tea farmers.
KTDA’s Commitment to Excellence
Acknowledging the burgeoning demand for orthodox tea, KTDA’s tea specialist manager, Mr. Festus Kaburi, affirmed that factories are now intensifying their focus on this high-value product. As the global appetite for orthodox tea continues to grow, KTDA-managed factories are poised to benefit from this diversification strategy. By embracing orthodox tea production, they are not only ensuring that Kenyan tea farmers secure higher incomes but also strengthening the nation’s position in the highly competitive international tea market.
The shift towards orthodox tea production by KTDA-managed factories represents a visionary step forward in elevating the livelihoods of Kenyan tea farmers. With its unmatched quality and increasing global demand, orthodox tea is unlocking new avenues of prosperity for the tea industry in Kenya. As factories like Thumaita Tea Factory lead the way, the future looks promising, ensuring that Kenyan tea continues to flourish on the world stage while benefiting those who cultivate it at home.
Stay updated with the latest farming tips and agriculture industry news from Africa by subscribing to our newsletter. Don’t miss out on valuable insights and updates. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to join our farming community and stay connected with us.