TEA

Tea was first planted in Limuru near Nairobi by G.W.L Caine in 1903. Commercial cultivation of tea in Kenya commenced in the 1930’s. Tea is today one of Kenya’s most important cash crops. Kenya is acknowledged world wide as one of the world’s leading Black Tea producers.

The Tea Industry in Kenya comprises of two distinct sectors. The corporate plantation sector owning large extents of land under Tea and the small holder sector owning small extents of land under Tea. The Small holder sector has registered more than half million growers who are located across the Tea growing areas in the country. The small holder sector leaf is manufactured by factories belonging to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).

The Tea growing areas in Kenya have the benefit of an ideal climate for Tea. Tropical, volcanic red soils with well distributed rainfall ranging between 1200mm to 1400mm per annum with long sunny days are extremely favorable for growing Tea. Production is round the year with two main peak seasons of high cropping between March and June and October to December which coincide with the rainy seasons. The famous Tea growing regions are found both East and West of the Great Rift Valley within altitudes of between 1,500 meters and 2,700 meters.

Kenya is one of the leading tea exporters in the world exporting about 95 % of the country’s total tea production. The country prides itself as the best producer of black tea with her market share being estimated at about 27% of the world's tea trade with Sri Lanka coming second at 26%.  In the last five years, the value of Kenya tea exports has grown from US$ 438.9 million (Kshs 34.5 billion) in 2001 to US$ 584.5 million (Kshs 42.3 billion) in 2005 (Central Bureau of Statistics). In 2005, tea was the third foreign exchange earner in the country after tourism and horticulture respectively.

Kenya's major markets for tea are Pakistan, Egypt, United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Yemen and Sudan. The upcoming markets for Kenya's tea include central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, Far East, S. Africa, West Africa and Northern African countries (Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco).
Kenya produces high quality tea with a good bright color that is used for blending other teas in the world market. Traditionally Kenya tea has been sold to the world market in bulk form and it is much sought after by leading tea companies to blend and add taste to the most respected tea brands in the world. In the last decade, Kenya has however increased the volume of value.

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