KTDA to set up specialty green tea production factory
The Kenya Tea Development Agency Limited (KTDA) is in the final stages of setting up Africa’s first Japanese specialty green tea production factory as part of its long-term product diversification strategy.
The factory, which will be located at the organization’s Kangaita tea farm in Kirinyaga County, will be used to pilot the processing of the specialized Japanese Sencha Green Tea which on average fetches a higher price, in the market than traditional black CTC tea.
With Kenya being the third largest producer of tea in the world, KTDA is in the process of diversifying the kind of products its putting in the market; having started with orthodox tea and now green tea. This particular plant will process a special type of green tea called Sencha.
Part of the project will involve mechanised green leaf plucking as the production of Japanese Sencha green tea demands a certain type of leaf quality to go through the processing plant. KTDA has been testing mechanised plucking at the farm, by ensuring tea bushes are prepared for the process when production starts next year.
Speaking after a progress tour of the factory, KTDA management services Managing Director, Alfred Njagi, said the project is a collaborative effort between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and KTDA.
The project which will cost Ksh.330 million got funding from JICA to the tune of Ksh 150 million with the balance coming from KTDA holdings.
Construction work for the factory started in august last year and was complete by February this year.
KTDA projects the factory to be operational in the second quarter of 2021, with installation of production lines by Japanese engineers having been delayed owing to the travel disruptions that were occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic.
When successful, this project will be rolled out to the smallholder tea factories.