Kapsabet, Nandi County — President Uhuru Kenyatta has emphasized the need to scale up value addition in the country's cash crops to ensure farmers get good returns.
Speaking today when he officially opened Kipchabo Tea Factory in Nandi County, President Kenyatta said value addition will also create jobs for the country's youth.
"We want to ensure that the jobs that are lost through exportation of the country's raw cash crops are protected for our young people," President Kenyatta said.
He urged the management of agricultural institutions to spearhead promotion of value addition of agricultural produce.
"Institutions like the Kenya Tea Development Authority, Kenya Tea Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries should lead in promoting value addition," he said.
On environmental conservation, President Kenyatta said the Nyayo Tea Zones will plant tea in Embobut and Mau forests to create a buffer zone as a way of protecting the country's water towers.
He commended the Nyayo Tea Zones Corporation for constructing Kipchabo TeaFactory and successfully servicing the loan incurred for its construction.
The President observed that the Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation has also established a value addition unit at the factory to manufacture and market branded tea for both local and international markets.
"That is why I am so pleased to be here, not only to open it, but also to recognize the achievement," he said.
During the occasion, President Kenyatta presented an ISO certificate to the management of the Kipchabo Tea Factory.
The factory employs 130 directly and more than 4,000 other members of the community indirectly in the tea farms which support the factory.
The Factory has also introduced an out-growers' programme in which it processes an average of 40,000 kilograms of green leaf per day from 1,500 tea farmers drawn from its catchment area.
To ensure farmers get affordable farm inputs and increase production, Deputy President William Ruto said the Government will put up a fertilizer factory in Eldoret in the next two years.
Noting that 95% of Kenya's tea is exported, the Deputy President encouraged Kenyans to consume more of the local tea.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said the introduction of an electronic tea auction, establishment of a Common User Facility in Mombasa to support tea value addition and the Government's support for subsidized fertilizer will ensure tea farmers reap maximum benefit from their produce.
Other speakers included Nandi Governor Dr. Cleopas Lagat, Nyayo Tea Zones Chairman Mathew Iteere and Managing Director Peter Korir.