Tea farmers can double their income by joining the East African Tea Trade Association, a voluntary organization that was started in 1956 to facilitate a world-class trading platform for African tea.
Currently farmers sell their produce to different factories which offer different prices per kilo depending on the region. Prices of tea range from Sh20 to Sh50 per kilo and this works to the disadvantage of small scale farmers.
EATTA helps members’ market tea weekly, on Mondays and Tuesdays. There is currently a main grades auction held on Tuesdays and secondary grades auction held on Mondays from 9.00 am. The assortment of quality and with time increased quantities offered have made Mombasa the second largest black tea auction center in the world after Colombo in Sri-Lanka.
“Our principal mandate is to run the weekly Mombasa Tea Auction Centre, currently the largest tea auction center in the world. There are currently 210 EATTA members comprising 85 producers, 81 buyers, 11 brokers, 19 warehouses, 10 packers and four associate members. The Association is self-sustaining and draws its income through annual subscriptions paid by the membership,” said Edward Mudibo, the Managing Director of the company.
It has members drawn from 10 countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique) all actively engaged in growing, buying, broking and warehousing of tea.
To be a member on has to apply. Applicants for membership must be introduced to the company by a member (proposer) and the introduction by the proposer must be seconded by another member of the company (seconder) both of whom must have been active member(s) for a minimum period of three years prior to the application for membership.
Applicants also attach a copy of KRA pin, value added tax registration and the Tea Directorate’s registration certificate before paying an entrance fee of Sh40,000 for producer membership.
EATTA has increased quantities of tea sold by small scale farmers by over 300 per cent in the last 20 years.
Tea earnings in Kenya rose by eight per cent to Sh129bn in 2017 up from Sh120bn the previous year according to data from the Tea Directorate of Kenya.