Tea merchant has panned the government move to ban logging saying it will affect production, which largely depends on firewood.
According to traders at Mombasa Tea Auction, 70 percent of tea production process relies on wood as fuel. Edward Mudibo, the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) managing director stated that the ban should be lifted from tea factories.
“Firewood is necessary for drying tea. The ban on logging is unfortunate particularly now when the prices of tea have stagnated,” he said.
DP William Ruto issued a ban on logging for a period of three months aimed at stopping the rampant destruction of forests and the near depletion of natural ecosystems. He issued a directive to the Environment CS, Keriako Tobiko to form a task force that will propose ways to discourage the destruction of forests.
Mr. Mudibo further stated that the tea industry is in the forefront of forest conservation activities. He says the industry propagates tree seedlings for trees like eucalyptus, which are it releases to the local communities for planting exotic trees used as wood fuel and indigenous trees for conservation.
Majority of the tea companies is dependent on own forest plantations that cater to the energy for processing. Some have partnerships with key environment development agencies.
“The blanket ban shall have adverse effects on the tea industry, Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earner and major employer and this has to be protected. Unless tea producers are exempted from the ban, the industry will have to close as the business model would not be able to sustain the costs,” he added.
Tea is the largest foreign exchange earner in Kenya after remittances. It contributed over 114 billion shillings in 2013, 101 billion shillings in 2014, 124 billion shillings in 2015, 120.6 billion shillings in 2016 and 129 billion shillings in 2017.