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  • Tea and Kenya

    Kenya is a major tea-producer. It has more than 110,000 hectares of land devoted to tea. In Kenya, tea is grown in the highland areas with adequate rainfall and low temperatures. The main tea-growing area is in the Kenyan Highlands, west of the Rift Valley, at altitudes between 5,000 and 9,000 feet. Tea is a major foreign exchange earner, and the main source for 17 to 20 percent of Kenya's total export revenue. In 1995, the tea industry brought US$342 million into the country and Kenya became the largest exporter of black tea in African and third largest in the world. Small-scale farmers grow more than 80 per cent of it while the rest is by large-scale producers. Small-scale farmers market their produce through the umbrella Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA), who is in charge of collection, processing and selling of processed leaves. Large-scale producers of Kenyan tea include Brooke Bond, George Williamson, Eastern Produce and African Highlands. Unlike small-scale farmers, large-scale growers are responsible for processing and marketing of their own crop. Kenya's production is usually in the region of 245 million kilos per year. The majority of the Kenyan tea production is sold through the Mombassa auction, with Pakistan, the UK and Egypt being the biggest buyers. Kenya Tea Development Authority and Association of Tea Growers develop and market Kenyan teas worldwide. These organisations' aims are to promote recognised standards and certification for the industry in general. They have made outstanding contributions to the Kenyan economy through excellence, innovation and quality in exporting overseas. They also provide a market for the 314,875 farmers who depend on tea growing as a livelihood. Established under an act of parliament (cap. 343) in June 1950, the Tea Board of Kenya licenses tea growers manufacturing and exports. The board also carries out research on tea through the technical arm; The Tea Research Foundation of Kenya is composed of the government, Kenya Tea Development Authority, Kenya Tea Growers Association, Nyayo Tea Zone, Development Corporation and East Africa Tea Trade Association. Kenya production is almost exclusively CTC manufacture (cut, twist and curl). This type of manufacture produces strong-liquoring teas, which yield a high number of cups per kilo, when brewed both loose and in teabags. The bushes are harvested throughout the year, with the best quality being produced in January and February and again in July, during the drier periods of the year.

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