Kenyan tea is set for a major boost in the European market if an initiative by a Dutch imports agency is implemented. This follows efforts by the Centre for Promotion of Imports (CBI) from developing countries, an arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, to improve skills of Kenyan agricultural agencies and stakeholders in the tea sector. The CBI event has for the first time brought together Kenyan tea growers and exporters for a three-day training workshop in The Hague, aimed at marketing branded Kenyan tea in the European Union.

Kenyan participants attending the workshop at Mercurie Hotel include Tea Research Foundation of Kenya, Tea Board of Kenya, Ministry of Agriculture and Kenya Tea Packers. Paul Kiprono from Tea Research Foundation of Kenya said the growing demand for high value tea products in EU markets has been due to the shift from generic tea to tea with health benefits. Tea Research Foundation of Kenya recently released purple cloned tea that offers a good opportunity to develop a wide range of products for the EU market requirements. Phoebe Awuor, CBI Kenya representative, said about 24 participants from Kenya attended the event, 14 of whom are producers, processing and packing companies. The rest are business development support agencies in the tea sector.

“I am happy to be at the workshop to learn how to add value to the whole supply chain so that Kenyan tea can be branded as “ teas from Kenya” unlike in the past when  it was used to blend and upgrade other teas,” said Elgeyo/Marakwet County goodwill ambassador and entrepreneur in The Netherlands, Dorcas Jeruto. “This programme will allow tea farmers to add value to the tea and export it as branded tea from Kenya, which we will buy directly from the shops over here.” The participants also toured International Exhibition in Amsterdam yesterday, led by Patrick Gouka, Kenya’s representative on agriculture, and Peter van Gilst, the co-ordinator in Africa and Middle East. The tour was geared towards seeing and meeting private label marketing associations for insights into packaging standards and product certification for EU markets. Gouka said CBI was committed to supporting small tea businesses in Kenya to access European consumers. Dr Bernard Lagat, an agricultural economist, said sustainability requires the tea industry to shift from conventional production technologies to modern production methods, adding that the value addition strategy should be largely consumer driven.