President Uhuru Kenyatta Officially opens Kipchabo Tea Factory
His Excellency the President Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the official opening of Kipchabo Tea Factory on Friday, 11th July, 2014. The President also presented to the Corporation’s Board Chairman Mr. Mathew Iteere and Managing Director Mr. Peter Korir the ISO 22:000 Food Safety Management System certificate awarded by the Kenya Bureau of Standards to the factory.
The colourful ceremony which was held at Kipchabo Factory grounds was also attended by Deputy President Hon. William Ruto, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr. Felix Koskei, Principal Secretary in the State Department of Agriculture Mrs. Sicily Kariuki, NTZDC Board of Directors, management, staff and other invited guests including tea farmers from the factory catchment area.
On arrival at the factory, President Uhuru Kenyatta was taken through the buffer concept model by the Corporation’s Managing Director Peter Korir. The President was also shown a variety of products produced by various community groups in the Corporation’s income generation programmes which involves local community groups in its areas of operation.
After cutting the ribbon to signify the official opening of Kipchabo Tea Factory, the President was taken on a guided tour of the factory where he was able to see the processing lines installed at the factory. The President was also shown the recently installed tea packaging machines in readiness for the launch of the Corporation’s value addition unit that will produce and package branded teas for local and international markets.
Speaking during the event, President Uhuru Kenyatta hailed the Corporation’s success in conservation of the country’s gazetted forests which he said has gone a long way in preserving the country’s biodiversity and mitigated against the adverse effects of climate change. President Kenyatta added that the buffer concept was a unique, innovative and sustainable method of forest conservation and directed that the buffer zones be established along other forests experiencing human-ecosystem conflict such as Mau and Embobut.
The President also lauded the value addition ventures the Corporation was undertaking saying it will go a long way in creating jobs for the youth in addition to earning more premium for Kenya’s quality tea. On his part, Deputy President William Ruto encouraged Kenyans to drink more tea, adding that the beverage had many medicinal and health benefits. He extolled Nyayo Tea Zones Corporation for the great milestones it has made in the tea sector, adding that the value addition venture stood to gain a lot from the huge local market potential as domestic consumption of tea was growing exponentially.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr. Felix Koskei noted that the occasion underscored the importance of Nyayo Tea Zone Corporation mandate which is to enhance the conservation of forests and protection of the environment. Agriculture Principal Secretary Mrs. Sicily Kariuki added that the Ministry of Agriculture has continued to view the tea sub-sector as a key base for both income generation and food security in the country; and lauded the corporation for constructing over 70 tea-buying centers in the 17 zones where the corporation and community sell their tea as a way of helping local farmers.
Board Chairman Mathew Iteere welcomed the President and other visitors to Kipchabo factory. The Chairman indicated that the construction of the factory had consolidated the Corporation’s position as a key player in the tea industry locally. "We consider ourselves a model state corporation in the country that has remained profitable and by sustainably conserving the environment while at the same time engaging in commercial activities to support its operation," said Mr. Iteere who concluded by thanking the management for their hard work which leading to ISO 22000 certification. He assured the management and staff of support from board in their future endeavours.
Managing Director Peter Korir outlined some of the Corporation’s milestones since its inception. “Our unique conservation concept has gone a full circle through a model that integrates agriculture, conservation and community empowerment initiatives into a sustainable venture that has been highly successful,” said Mr. Korir.
NTZDC Board Chairman Mathew Iteere and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr. Felix Koskei then presented an interim dividend cheque to H.E the President Uhuru Kenyatta on behalf of the exchequer.