KENYA – The Kenya Tea Development Agency has announced that production of orthodox tea from factories it manages has risen by 25% in the year ended June 30, 2020, prompted by the diversification strategy to reduce reliance on Black CTC tea.

According to the agency, the factories produced 2 million kilos of orthodox tea, up from 1.6 million kilos of the previous year.

The increased output reflects the ongoing investment in machinery with 10 factories having installed production lines for orthodox tea processing, out of which 9 are already operational.

The operational factories are Itumbe, Michimikuru, Kangaita, Imenti, Kiru, Thumaita, Gitugi, Kagwe and Chinga.

The tenth factory is Kimunye and will soon be commissioned to commence processing this quarter, reports KBC.

Another factory, Matunwa in Nyamira Country is under construction with the roll-out of more factories continuing.

“In addition, a specialty tea factory in Kangaita is nearing completion and is expected to process Japanese-style green tea,” revealed KTDA.

Orthodox teas are whole leaf teas processed using a delicate method of gradually rolling green leaf into sizes of different twists and styles, while Black CTC tea where the leaf is cut into fine granules by a set of rollers.

Other speciality teas on focus include green, purple and white teas. Kenyan-made orthodox teas are mainly sold in Germany, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

The growth in capacity by these expanded and new facilities will further accelerate a diversification programme by the Agency aimed at opening new markets and diversifying earnings from the current Black CTC tea whose prices have taken a dip.

Kenya’s earnings from tea in the first half of the current year dropped to Ksh.55 billion (US$509.8m) from Ksh.60 billion (US$556.1m) recorded in the same period last year as demand was negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Kenya Tea Directorate indicated that the low demand also led to the decline in price per kilo to Ksh221 (US$2.05) from Ksh239 (US$2.22) in the corresponding period last year, reports Business Daily.

Volume of tea exported to the world market dropped by two million kilos in the six months to June, representing a one per cent decline.

Export to Kenya’s two major markets i.e. Pakistan and Egypt dropped by five per cent from each of the destinations.

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