Over 6,000 small scale tea farmers reap big as factory opens

Over 6,000 small scale farmers in Nandi County are set to reap better returns following the commissioning of Sireet Tea Factory.

Owned by Sireet Outgrowers Empowerment and Producer (OEP) Company the factory, which was financed by National Bank of Kenya (NBK) to the tune of Sh600 million, provides direct jobs to 240 people.

Construction of the factory that is located on a 7,000-acre tea estate in Kamarich has created an additional processing capacity of five million kilogrammes of green leaf annually to meet growing demand from increasing acreage of tea planted in the area.

It is the second factory owned by the OEP, a group 6,235 of small scale farmers that also runs another two-line one that can process 98,000 kilogrammes of green leaf daily.

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The group also owns commercial forests, and runs Sireet OEP guesthouse, a school, dispensary and staff housing in the area.

NBK’s Board chairman John Nyerere said: “We are excited to be part of the transformational journey of Sireet. It is a demonstration of the huge strength in unity. It shows the huge potential that can be unlocked when investors come together, with a common purpose, and receive the right backing”.

Agriculture contributes about 33 per cent to Kenya’s GDP, 60 per cent of job opportunities and while accounting for 65 per cent of the country’s exports.

Data from the Tea Directorate of Kenya shows that the country earned about Sh120 billion from tea exports last year, up from Sh116 billion in 2019.

Tea production increased by 24.12 per cent to 569.5 million kilogrammes against 458.9 million kilogrammes recorded in 2019.

Whereas Pakistan remains the leading buyer of Kenyan tea, other key markets include: the UK, Egypt, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Yemen, Sudan and Poland.

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