Factors which affect the quality of made tea in factories managed by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA): a study of factories in Thika district
Kathata, Patrick M.
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Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is today the single largest producer and exporter of made tea in the country. KTDA is the managing agent for the smallholder tea subsector. Payment is made to the growers on a regular monthly basis and at the end of each financial year. A second payment generally referred to as 'tea bonus' is paid at the end of the financial year. The future expansion of earnings from the sector is expected to be more from improvement in quality than from increased production. Presently, prices fluctuate from time to time depending on quality. The price of tea is also affected by supply and demand forces in the market place. This study held the external factors related to made tea in in KTDA - managed factories constant and only focused on the factors affecting the quality of made tea in selected KTDA- managed factories. The study also concerned itself with price changes related only to quality of made tea.ﾷ The overall objective was to assess the factors that affect the quality of made tea in selected factories, and make recommendations on how to address them. Empirical as well as theoretical literature was reviewed. Both published and unpublished works related to the study topic were reviewed including reports from relevant government ministries and departments. This culminated into a triangular theoretical framework. Two factories out of the twelve in Region l(Thika, Muranga, Maragwa and Kiambu) of KTDA were sampled for the study. Systematic random sampling was used to sample respondents. Data was collected using two sets of interview schedules. one for each sample. Various methods of data analysis and presentation were used to facilitate interpretation of data. Multivariate data analysis techniques including the chi-square test were used. Data was presented using descriptive statistics and cartographic methods such as pie charts and graphs. The study found out that quality of made tea is influenced by a number of factors that include motivation of staff, level of tea husbandry, time lag between collection and delivery to factory as well from factory to auction, and the chain activities. These have been shown to either positively or negatively impact on the quality of made tea. The fmdings also indicate that there is relationship between the quality of green leaf delivered to the factory and the quality of made tea. This study concludes that, tea factories that emphasize on addressing these associated factors have been found to gain long term competitiveness as well as paying farmers high dividends. Machine intensive factories have greatly improved their logistics and production of tea and a move towards investment in technology is likely to result to achievement of high quality made tea. The time lag between manufacture and delivery of tea to auction also affect the quality of made tea and therefore how the tea factories organise their tea transport logistics is crucial. The results of this study tend to support the theoretical literatures (social systems theory, the exit voice theory and Herzberg'S motivation theory), which have argued that tea production is a social system of action and that management seek ways and means of improving quality of made tea to avoid exit or even violent reaction by farmers. The study supports the motivation theory that a worker is motivated by earnings, rewards, performance, progress and responsibility which 'makes a worker feel is a man among men' Hertzberg et al (1957:118). These factors result from internal instincts in employees, yielding motivation rather than movement.