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Embu Tea Factory To Start Orthodox Tea Line

Rukuriri Tea Factory in Embu County has embarked on plans to install orthodox tea processing line at a cost of Sh300 million to boost farmers’ earnings.

The factory becomes the first one to install such a line in the county and joins 11 others that are processing orthodox tea in the country, even as KTDA continues to encourage more to follow suit given that the tea fetches better prices in the international market than the conventional black CTC tea.

The Factory Chairman, Joseph Rwanjau, said they will commence by installing one line accompanied by two automatic withering machines.

He said some of the machines will take close to six months to arrive from abroad and so the earliest they expect the line to be up and running is April 2024.

He said in collaboration with KTDA Management Services, they were looking for a financier who will give them a moratorium and a grace period of up to three years before starting repayment.

‘By doing so, the machines will start repaying themselves and so the cost on the part of farmers will be minimal,’ he assured the famers.

He however, said farmers must also be ready to incur some cost which will eventually pay back handsomely as orthodox teas fetch almost double the price of black tea.

‘As we stand now, one kilo of orthodox tea is going for between five and six dollars while the traditional CTC tea is selling at 2.8 to Three Dollars,’ the Chairman said, while calling on farmers’ support for the new development.

He said the only way for farmers to get good money from tea was to start shifting to orthodox teas.

Rwanjau clarified that farmers need not to plant other bushes since the difference was in processing.

‘The traditional way is to cut the leaves while the orthodox way is to roll the leaves,’ he explained.

His Vice Chairman Peter Mwaniki said they will also look into ways of adding flavors to the orthodox tea to add value in a bid to increase earnings.

He however, asked farmers to maintain quality at farm level to secure a good market and prices.

He at the same time requested farmers not only to be producers of tea, but consumers as well, noting that they consume only ten percent of the tea they produce.

Tea Research Institute has stated that the future of black tea according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projections was not promising and tea producers must start shifting to specialty teas.

The Institute Director, Samson Kamunya, while speaking in Embu during the World Tea Day Celebrations, said they had started rolling out technologies and innovations that will inject many more specialty teas.

‘Between the next five to ten years, we want to see black CTC coming from Kenya reduce by 30 percent and the same be replaced by orthodox teas and other specialty teas,’ he said.

He said they also project in the same duration to see tea fortified products including beers and wines among others.

Source: Kenya News Agency