Kenya to start value-added tea exports to Australia

Tea export

Workers pluck tea at a farm in Bomet County.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

Kenya will start export of value-added tea to Australia as the country moves to safeguard its mark of origin and enhance farmers’ income.

A dispatch from State House after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday said it was promoting agro-processing through value addition of exported agricultural produce and Australia has emerged as one of the destinations that the country is targeting with ready tea.

“The cabinet noted that as part of Kenya’s export promotion strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture will in the coming week flag off the first-ever full shipload of value-added tea destined for Australia,” said the Cabinet in a statement.

This comes at a time when Kenyan tea is performing dismally in the market as most of the country’s top two buyers, who account for over 55 percent of the total’s beverage are facing financial woes that have seen them cut on the quantities that they buy.

Kenya has over the years been relying on just a handful of markets as traditional buyers of the commodity but has in recent days been scouting for new markets to cut overreliance on Pakistan and Egypt who are the top clients for the Kenyan beverage.

Minimum price

Australia has been buying less tea from the auction but volumes have been growing, albeit sluggishly. For instance, the quantities of tea purchased by this European nation grew by 20 percent in 11 months to November last year to hit 2,005 tonnes from 1,665 a year earlier.

The price of the beverage has been on a decline since the beginning of the year when the first sale of 2023 recorded $2.25 (Sh280.10).

The price of the beverage remained low over the last half of 2022 raising concerns among the stakeholders as farmers are likely to see a decline in their earnings in the current financial year.

In 2021, the government was forced to introduce a minimum price of $2.43(Sh302.51) for a kilo of tea to save farmers from low earnings after the value of the beverage fell below the cost of production.

The tea has been trading below the minimum price since August last year as demand for the commodity remains low at the auction.