Towards sustainable agriculture: the case of tea nutrient budgeting in the smallholder sub-sector in Kenya

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Date
2015-01
Authors
Kibet Sitienei
Kamau David
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Publisher
Journal of Tea Science Research
Abstract
Sustainable agriculture in tea production has become a concern due to the pressures of the high fertilizer costs and increased focus on environmental protection. Greater attention is now being paid to efficient use of external inputs to avoid land degradation. Nitrogen phosphorus and potassium are the major nutrients in tea (Camellia sinensis) cultivation under commercial conditions. The smallholder tea sub-sector alone in Kenya on average imports an equivalent to 14,560 N metric tons, 2,800 P 2 O 5 metric tons and 2,800 K 2 O metric tons, and exports via processed made tea an equivalent of 9,618 N metric tons, 1,420 P 2 O 5 metric tons and 4,634 K 2 O metric tons. These figures are not sustainable and urgent efforts are necessary to develop threshold limits or symptoms of change that can serve as a wakeup call (before the effects become visible). Product diversification as in tea value addition factories that deal with extracts should be encouraged to avoid or reduce most of these unsustainable exports of NPK in processed tea, while the extracts are recycled. Similarly, increasing domestic consumption of our Kenyan teas will reduce the amounts of NPK exported out of the country by the black CTC teas.
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Sitienei and Kamau, 2015, Towards sustainable agriculture: the case of tea nutrient budgeting in the smallholder sub-sector in Kenya, Journal of Tea Science Research, Vol.5, No.5, 1-4 (doi: 10.5376/jtsr.2015.05.0001
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