The True Price of Quality: On the Infrastructures of Tea in Postcolonial Kenya

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In Kenya, tea is a “political crop” (Ochieng 2007). Tea is one of Kenya’s largest exports and is an important foreign exchange earner and source of revenue. At the same time, tea is key to the livelihoods many smallholder farmers in central Kenya and west of the Rift Valley, so that the price of tea is a recurrent focus of political campaigns. Keenly aware of tea’s political and economic value, county governments grapple with the national government over tea policy, while key industry actors challenge and resist attempts at reform. These politics around the “true” price of tea are situated in and regenerated through the infrastructures through which Kenyan tea is produced, processed and marketed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCommodity Frontiers
Pages (from-to)16-23
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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