May 20, 2024

Supporting tea growers in Kenya

Celebrate International Tea Day by learning how Yara helps Kenyan tea growers increase yields and improve their livelihoods through better farming practices.

Tea farmer in Kenya
Tea farmer in Kenya

May 21 is International Tea Day

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) leads observance of the day to promote sustainable production and consumption of tea, as well as to draw attention to the important role tea production plays in fighting hunger and poverty. This year we celebrate International Tea Day by looking at how Yara is helping tea growers increase yields in one of the largest tea producers in the world. 

Kenya: A tea powerhouse

Kenya is a powerhouse in the tea industry, ranking as the third-largest producer and exporter globally. They contribute a quarter of all exported tea, averaging around 500,000 tonnes annually. Kenya's perfect climate, with long sunny days and fertile soil, fosters year-round cultivation, resulting in unique tea quality and taste. About 203,006 hectares (501,639 acres) of land in the Kenyan highlands are dedicated to tea cultivation. Kenya’s tea industry directly supports about 5 million people. Indirectly, an estimated 650,000 tea growers depend on tea, making the industry one of the leading sources of livelihood in the country. 

Close up shot of tea plant in Kenya

How we are supporting Kenyan tea growers 

Yara is committed to improving farmer income and sustainability. In Kenya, after seeing a potential to enhance both yield and quality of the tea crop, we embarked on a comprehensive initiative aimed at supporting tea farmers with advanced agronomic solutions. We specially formulated fertilizers, designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of tea plants. These products have been pivotal in helping farmers improve the health of their tea bushes, resulting in greener, more robust leaves, which are crucial for a high-quality tea harvest. 

Beyond just supplying products, Yara's involvement extends to training programs for the farmers. Through workshops and field days, we teach tea growers the best practices in tea cultivation, focusing on optimal fertilizer application techniques and timing to maximize absorption and minimize waste. These sessions are often hands-on, allowing farmers to see the practical applications of Yara's products and techniques on actual tea plants.

Tea farm in Kenya

Better yields, increased market returns 

The impact of Yara's involvement has been significant. Tea growers that have partnered with Yara report not only higher yields but also improvements in the quality of tea, which fetches better prices in both local and international markets. For example, a tea estate in Nandi reported a noticeable increase in leaf size and color richness after adopting Yara's recommendations, leading to a 20% increase in their market returns. 

Gedion Ng’etich, one of Yara's key account managers, describes how one of the demo farms in Kaisugu limited in South rift, shifted in yields with the use of YaraMila JAVA. The yields increased from 657kgs to 817kgs/acre per harvest.

With the introduction of YaraMila JAVA a high-quality compound NPK, many farmers have witnessed a lot of changes - the yields have increased and the tea is now greener and gentle, making it easier to harvest. As Yara continues its work with Kenyan tea farmers, the stories of improved yield and quality spread, inspiring more farmers to adopt these advanced agricultural practices.

Yara's commitment to the Kenyan tea industry is about fostering sustainable practices, like nutrient management, that ensure the long-term health of the tea bushes, the livelihoods of the farmers, and the environmental sustainability of the region. Each cup of Kenyan tea enjoyed around the world now carries a hint of this progress and partnership, and is a testament to the dedication and innovation driving the future of agriculture in Kenya.