Kenya fears losing Sh 8billion it receives annually from the sale of tea to Russia and Ukraine following the ongoing war that had crippled exports, Kenya Tea Development Agency Chairman David Ichoho has said.
Ichocho said they were no longer exporting tea in the two countries, which are among the country’s major biggest tea exporting markets.
Speaking at Ndarugo Tea Factory Gatundu South Sub County Saturday, the chairman said Russia buys Sh6 billion worth of tea annually, while Ukraine buys Sh2 billion of the product.
He said the prevailing sanctions affected tea shipment, adding that they have been forced to use alternative routes as well as explore other markets.
While assuring farmers that interruptions are mild, Ichoho said the country has other strong tea markets including Pakistan, Southern Sudan and the United Kingdom among others which are stable.
“Since the war started, it has been difficult to access both markets, but we have stable markets that are buying our tea. We have been forced to divert eight containers that were headed to Russia to other markets. In Ukraine we had two stores of our customers that were bombed. However, we hope the war will end soon for normal operations to resume,” said Ichoho.
He said overall tea earnings in the country jumped from Sh120 billion in 2020 to Sh136 billion last year, adding that there are all indications that they will increase to Sh150 billion this year.
He said export earnings had helped farmers receive good earnings, at Sh3 billion mini-bonus this year compared to Sh1.78 billion last year. This year, farmers will receive the mini-bonus before July 8. They also will be receiving Sh3billion monthly payments.
These are among the several gains that tea farmers were getting following the ongoing reforms in the tea sector.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya who attended the event urged tea farmers to safeguard the gains recorded in the ongoing reforms in the tea sector by not electing thieves and bad leaders in the country’s top leadership.
Munya said the reforms have started bearing fruits and that the future can only be bright if they elect leaders who can continue implementing the reforms.
He said tea farming was slowly becoming lucrative and that tea farmers had started getting good proceeds unlike other years, where they were uprooting the trees.
“We have achieved a lot through the tea reforms. Bonuses have jumped to Sh3 billion and at the shortest time. Farmers are getting good pay monthly compared to the past years. Several other positive things are ongoing. The future can only be bright if we put the right people into leadership positions. If you put cartels and thieves, then the reforms will be reversed and you will suffer,” he said.