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Kenyan tea growers target Chinese market amid growing trade ties

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-06-18 21:10
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NAIROBI -- Kenyan large-scale tea growers are keen to begin exporting the commodity to China amid robust bilateral trade between the two countries, their representatives said on Monday.

Joseph Kuria, the Board's Chairman of the 320 acres Maramba Tea Estates located in Kiambu County on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, said that Beijing represents an alternative and lucrative market for tea grown in the East African nation's highlands.

"We are definitely interested in selling our tea to China and hope the country is going to offer a better market for the commodity," Kuria told Xinhua at the expansive Maramba tea estate that is owned by a cooperative society.

A group of Kenyan entrepreneurs acquired the Maramba tea estate in 1964 from a departing British settler and later set up a factory to process the commodity for local and overseas market.

Kuria said Maramba tea farm produces an average of 14,000 to 18,000 kilograms of green leaf tea annually and export the processed commodity to India, Afghanistan and several Gulf States.

He said this year's production of green tea leaves is expected to spike thanks to favorable weather and improved agronomic practices.

Kenya signed an agreement in July 2017 to boost tea exports to the Asian country where consumption of the commodity spans over 3000 years.

Government statistics indicate that Kenya exports 4 to 5 million kilograms of tea annually to China out of an estimated production of 472 million kilograms per year.

James Mureu, the National Vice Chairman of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) said during the China Trade Week underway in Nairobi that tea and coffee exports to China could boost foreign exchange earnings in the East Africa's largest economy.

Francis Ng'ang'a, a board member at Maramba tea estates said that China presents a viable export destination for Kenyan tea whose quality has improved thanks to adoption of improved varieties and value addition.

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