Tea packers seek govt intervention

June 22, 2009
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, NYERI, Kenya, Jun 22 – The government has been urged to come to the aid of Kenyan companies that add value to tea by instituting measures that will cushion them against losses from a weakening shilling.

Speaking in Nyeri during a ceremony to donate twenty computers worth Sh 1million to Ihuririo secondary school in Othaya division, All Time Tea Managing Director Rosemary Wanjiku said that despite tea being grown and processed locally, “consumer prices will remain high due to effects associated with the currency at which the tea is bought at the Mombasa auction.”

All Time Tea is a local company that blends and packs tea for the Kenyan market.

She said that as a result of the dollar denominated auction, when the Kenyan shilling became weaker as is the case now – exchanging at Sh80 to US Dollar – local tea packing companies were disadvantaged.

This is despite the fact that the value addition to the tea takes place within the country.

“This means that Kenyan tea consumers do not get to benefit from price competitiveness which should be the case here. The tea should cost less that it actually does,” she said.

Ms Wanjiku noted that this was also the reason why Kenyan tea farmers were registering lower earnings from their produce. “With tea farmers abandoning the crop, the quality of Kenyan tea will be affected since there are specific gardens that give it the world renowned flavour that makes it popular,” she said.

“ I can encourage them to do a lot more value addition at the factory level and venture into blending and packing for better prices. This is the only way tea farmers will continue growing the crop.”

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