Towards sustainable agriculture: the case of tea nutrient budgeting in the smallholder sub-sector in Kenya
David M. Kamau
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Tea Research Institute, P. O. Box 820-20200, Kericho, Kenya
Journal of Tea Science Research, 2015, Vol. 5, No. 1 doi: 10.5376/jtsr.2015.05.0001
Received: 10 Nov., 2014 Accepted: 23 Dec., 2014 Published: 27 Jan., 2015
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Preferred citation for this article:
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)
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 P2O5 metric tons and 2,800 K2O metric tons, and exports via processed made tea an equivalent of 9,618 N metric tons, 1,420 P2O5 metric tons and 4,634 K2O 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.
Sustainable agriculture; Restorative management; Tea nutrient budgeting; Camellia sinensis