Counties have been warned against selling their teas directly to international source markets bypassing the Mombasa Tea Auction. This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt businesses affecting many sectors including tea. Already, the price of fertiliser has shot up due to the pandemic. The authority said it is sourcing for new markets as it seeks to increase farmers' income as it warned counties against selling their teas directly to source markets instead of using Mombasa Tea Auction. The Mombasa tea auction is currently the largest black CTC tea auction centre in the world and accounts for 32 percent of global tea exports. “The fertiliser is costly because of many reasons including Covid-19 and improvement of ammonium. That is why we have not even gotten our full capacity. We are requesting for a subsidy to bring the prices down,” said the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) Holdings Chairman Mr David Ichoho. KTDA procured and is distributing the fertiliser to farmers at Sh3072 per 50kg bag. The price has spiked due to Covid-19. “When we came into office our concern was about the prices, our objective was to bring money to the farmers. Already we have witnessed the price of tea jump from an average of $1.90 before the minimum price regime to the current average of approximately $2.5 per kilo of tea. This means that our income has increased by about Sh65 per kilo of tea, this is significant growth,” he said while highlighting the milestones of the new board members. Speaking during the opening ceremony of directors’ induction and corporate governance training at the Travellers Beach Hotel, Mombasa, the chairman rooted for the changes ushered in by the Tea Act. “Farmers will get more money. We are looking for more markets for our tears to increase our income. We will provide high-quality tea,” he said. Mr Ichoho said the attempt by counties to sell their teas directly did not come to fruition. “I urge our farmers not to participate in politics. Ours is economic empowerment of the people. I would be very happy if every governor can give us a subsidy,” he said. KTDA Holdings vice-chairman Dr Wesley Koech said the move by counties to sell directly to foreign markets was ill-advised. Some governors from tea- growing regions have been demanding to sell their produce directly to willing buyers internationally, bypassing the Mombasa auction. The authority chairman assured farmers that the authority will make factories more efficient, produce better quality tea, plan for and make capital investments, manage costs better and deliver a higher return in the sector.
Source: Business Daily