by Ronald Njoroge
NAIROBI, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to expand local tea consumption due to global oversupply of the commodity that is pushing down prices, officials said on Friday.
The Interim Head of Tea Directorate at the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) Samuel Ogola told a media briefing that a current oversupply of tea at the international market is affecting farmers' earnings.
"Out of the annual production of 450 million kgs of tea, only 30 million is consumed locally. Our strategy is expand it, so that Kenyan tea farmers can be cushioned from the global glut of tea," Ogola said during the Tea Packers Symposium.
The tea directorate plans to increase the share of local consumption from the current 6.6 percent to 15 percent in the next five years.
The strategy to expand domestic consumption includes aggressive marketing of the beverage to the rapidly growing youth population.
Government data indicates that Kenya's per capita tea consumption stands at 0.5 kgs compared to the global average of 1 kg per person per year.
Ogola said that Kenya's tea consumption can rise to 0.75 kg per capita in the next three years through intensive brand promotion by the local tea packers as well as intense sales by factories through factory door sales.
Kenya is the third top tea producer in the world after China and India.
"However both Asian nations consume the bulk of their tea locally as compared to Kenya which exports most of its produce," Ogola said.