KENYA – Kenyan tea experts have lent their knowledge on sustainable production of the highly valuable crop to the Island of Mauritius.
The program, dubbed “Enhancing Climate Smart Resilience in the Tea Sector” was undertaken at the Farmers Training School of the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI) in Wooton.
The training was dispensed by a team of consultants from the Tea Research Institute of Kenya with the objective of beefing up capacity building to improve and sustain tea cultivation and production in Mauritius, focusing on resilience, climate smart, fertiliser, and soil health and fertility.
Despite Mauritius having a reach history of tea plantation, it has in the recent years been faced with serious difficulties due to low price of tea on the world market and increase in costs of production.
This has made the Island not to compete with the major tea producing countries in the world such as China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam as well as with the tea producing countries of the COMESA and SADC blocks.
To this end the country has turned to Kenya for expertise advice as the East African nation is one of the leading producers and exporters of tea across the globe.
For instance, in the month of May 2022 Kenya’s tea production rose by 4.77 million Kgs from 45.32 million Kgs recorded in the same period of 2021 to 50 million Kgs. From the total output, the country exported 36.56 million Kgs of tea.
In his address on the occasion, the Senior Chief Executive of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Medha Gunputh, highlighted that the Mauritius government was making relentless efforts to revive the tea industry.
He urged all planters to avail of all the facilities and schemes being extended by the Government to engage in tea production.
He also expressed gratitude to the European Union for providing Kenyan expertise to help Mauritius overcome the challenges it was facing regarding tea production.
Besides, he informed that the Food and Agriculture Organisation was conducting a study for an inclusive Business Model for the tea sector.
Furthermore, Mr Medha Gunputh stressed that the next objectives to boost the sector were to replace the old plantations and to improve soil fertility.
Also present on the occasion, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the FAREI, Mrs Micheline Seenevassen Pillay, stated that the tea sector had regained its economic importance, and proposals had been made to relaunch the sector.
She observed that tea had been continuously cultivated for decades and that there was now a need to review the fertiliser recommendation as well as to improve tea production and sustain soil fertility and tea plantation.
On that note, she emphasised that the experts would analyse the tea sector and provide recommendations for sustainable tea production in view of sustainable soil fertility in existing and new tea growing areas.
In addition, she called for adoption of climate smart actions and technologies to promote and sustain production, integrate fertiliser management programme and novel products as a substitute to chemical fertiliser, and revise fertiliser recommendations based on the local soil characteristics.