KENYA – Kericho County Government is planning to set up a tea factory in the coming financial year, a project that will cost KSh150 million (US$1.5m) in Kenyan’s western region.

Alongside the factory project, the county will establish a tea auction, separate from the weekly tea auction in Mombasa.

According to Kericho governor, professor Paul Chepkwony, the tea factory project aims to ensure that tea business is profitable and relevant to the Western Kenya region.

The project also aims to curb the exploitation of small-scale tea farmers who have been fetching low prices for their produce.

According to the financial year report ended June 2019, income for the year stood at Sh69.7 billion (US$7.1 billion) down from Sh85.7 billion (US$8.8 billion) earned the previous year.

Meaning farmers will get paid US$0.41 per kilogramme of delivered green leaf, down from US$0.52 per kilogramme last year.

“By establishing a new tea auction far away from Mombasa and a local tea factory in Western region that covers Kericho, Bomet, Kakamega, and Kisii, we will be in a position to process and market value-added teas and curb huge losses incurred from unjustified levies charged at Mombasa auction,” said Chepkwony.

In Nyeri, the County government has created a Sh200 million coffee rejuvenation kitty to increase annual production to 140 million (US$1.4m) kilograms by 2022.

Nyeri Governor, Mutahi Kahiga said the money would be disbursed in two budgetary phases drawn from the county’s equitable share and local resources.

“We have already utilised a Sh50 million (US$500,000) budget that bought 90,000 bags of lime to check the acidity of our coffee farms.’’

‘’We will impart a further Sh100 million (US$1m) to buy three soil scanners and the balance be set aside to subsidise the sector,” he added.

Mr Kahiga said coffee farming in the county had been erratic since farmers did not have reliable information on the soil to help them in fertiliser use.

Agriculture Executive James Wachihi said: “Soil testing has been a costly affair per sample. Farmers were expected to part with Sh1,500 (US$15). That one sample will now be costing a farmer Sh600 (US$6) under this programme.”

The investment by the two county governments is in bid to promote their main economic earning sectors.