Kenya Tea Development Agency Limited (KTDA), the country’s leading tea producer is setting up a specialized tea factory, which will be the first of the its kind in the country.
The factory will be located at the company’s Kangaita Tea Farm in Kirinyaga county. The farm is expected to pilot the highly placed Japanese Sencha green tea which averagely goes for double the price in the market.
The project is a collaborative effort between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and KTDA. It is expected to cost Sh300m whereby JICA will fund half of the cost while the agency comes up with the rest.
According to Alfred Njagi, KTDA management services director, the agency is glad to get financial assistance from Japan.
“We are grateful to the Japanese Government for helping fund this project so that we can diversify the products that smallholder tea farmers process in order to ensure that they are cushioned against the fluctuations of black CTC tea prices,” he said.
The sencha green tea has a specific plucking method, as it demands a certain type of leaf quality to pass to the processing plant. As a result, KTDA has been testing mechanized plucking at the farm to ensure they are ready when production starts.
“One of the requirements of processing Japanese Sencha Green Tea is that it should be delivered to the factory within one hour of plucking; it is, therefore, necessary for us to use mechanized plucking to attain the right quality of green leaf and have it delivered to the factory within the shortest time possible. The machine is efficient in that we can get the required amount of green leaf as per the processing requirement of the factory, “ said Jared Onduso, assistant manager in charge of tea harvesting at the farm.
When successful, this project will be rolled out to the smallholder tea factories.