Factory Production Assistants Trained on Capacity Building to Boost Skills

Production Assistants, drawn from across the 67 KTDA-managed factories, receive training on quality tea manufacturing during a four-day workshop in Kericho.

Tea Factory Production Assistants (PAs) last week attended a four-day capacity-building workshop in Kericho to boost their tea processing skills.

The rigorous training that took place at the Kericho Tea Hotel attracted 40 PAs drawn from the 67 KTDA managed Tea Factories. The topics covered during the training include factors that influence tea quality, types of tea clones, plucking standards, and the chemical and physical processes that take place during the processing of green leaf.

Speaking on phone from Mombasa, KTDA Head of Training and Development, Mr. Seth Agala, said that the training was aimed at equipping the PAs with the right skills to enable them understand tea and the entire production process.

“The initiative is part of our continuous development training for the PAs, most of whom are young and new to our production system. The training is meant to equip the PAs with an in-depth understanding of chemical and physical process of tea manufacture. This understanding is hoped to enable them produce high-quality teas that are a cut above those of our competitors”, Mr. Seth said.

The first batch of PAs arrived at Kericho Tea Hotel Sunday 31st, September 2015 ahead of the four-day training that kicked off on Monday. The second batch arrived, Sunday 6th September 2015 and is expected to receive similar training during the week.

Kisii Regional Operations Manager, Mr. William Bii, who coordinated the first batch, said the training was a resourceful ensemble that tuned up the PAs to fully understand the scientific process involved in tea manufacturing.

“The Production Assistants were able to understand what happens at different stages of tea production in the factory from a scientific point of view. They learned about the chemical changes that take place in a leaf as it is rolled from the bush to the cup. The training should be organized every other time we have new Production Assistants,” Mr. Bii said.

The PAs interviewed, said that the training was resourceful as it enlightened them on what goes on behind the scenes of leaf processing. The learners said that they were exposed to different types of tea clones and guided on which clones do well in the East and West of Rift. Tea experts said that clone performance is dependent on the ecological factors prevailing in a region.

A PA from Kapkatet Tea Factory, Ms. Ruth Momanyi said that “There are aspects of tea processing we had not grasped well like the chemical changes that occur during processing. However, we are now familiar with it. We also learned that there are 53 tea clones and that some of them have higher Catechin levels than others. (Catechin is the chemical that gives the made tea its desirable flavors and color). Additionally, we learned that we can blend green tea with purple tea at different ratios to manufacture the best quality of black CTC,” Ms. Momanyi said.

The training was facilitated by a team of researchers from Kericho Tea Research Institute led by Dr. Paul Kiprono.