Tea was first introduced in Kenya from India by a colonial settler G.W Caine in 1903. Tea is mainly grown in several districts which include Kericho, Bomet, Nandi, Kiambu, Thika, Maragua, Muranga, Sotik, Kisii, Nyamira, Nyambene, Meru, Nyeri, Kerinyaga, Embu, Kakamega, Nakuru and Trans-nzoia.
The decrease in the annual bonus is being attributed to overproduction, socio-economic and political factors in international markets.
Other contributing factors to the decline in tea prices and returns include the levying of VAT on direct sales by local exporters, levying of VAT on buyer inter-trading, lack of adequate consumer-driven research, development and promotional activities.
Turbulence in the international markets such as economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the US and high inflation rates in Egypt also negatively impact tea market.
Last year, the exchange rate dropped 1.6 per cent as the shilling strengthened against the dollar. Tea is traded in the US dollar, which is then converted to Kenyan shilling.
The growers express their displeasure each and every year but no change is effected on the tea bonus but instead it gets lower and lower thus making tea farmers poorer and poorer.
An acre tea farm on average produces 2500kg an year. This translates to a farmer getting 75,000ksh as bonus if the rate is given at 30ksh. Given the workload done to achieve the target of 2500kg is enormous as almost each and every week the farmer needs to pluck the tea leaves. On average a farmer gets 6,250ksh per month if the bonus is to be divided by 12 months. The other monthly payment per kg which the farmer gets paid covers for labour costs plus the inputs costs of fertilizer. Isn’t this slavery really tea farmers and should this be enough reason to embrace change?
Hass avocado is ideally suited for tea growing zones. An acre of Hass can fetch more than a 1,000,000 ksh under good management skills. Hass avocado variety is the most common for exporters as it has a massive market in Europe as compared to other varieties. The best way to eliminate this suffering from our dear farmers is to intercrop the already established tea with Hass avocado and eventually after three years the trees will have taken over the tea plantation.
HERE IS THE ESTIMATE RETURN FROM AN ACRE UNDER HASS AVOCADO
The first two years –growth stage
• 2nd year (harvest of 50 fruits per tree) – 60k
• 3rd year (harvest 200-250 fruits) – 240k
• 4th year – (400 fruits) – 480k
• 5th year – (800 fruits)- 900k
• 6th year – (1000 fruits) – 1.08m
• 7th year –(1100 fruits) – 1.3m
• 8th year –(more than 1300 fruits) – 1.5m
• 9th year – (more than 1500 fruits) – 1.8m
• 10th year – (more than 1750 fruits) – 2m
Total cumulative returns Ksh 10 million