Kenya tea plantation

Some 60% of workers in the Kenyan tea industry are women

PG Tips owner Lipton Teas & Infusions is to co-fund the world’s first higher education institution dedicated to tea in Kenya.

The Lipton Tea Innovation & Technology Academy – which has opened this month at the University of Kabianga – would seek to make Kenya “the world centre of advanced skills and knowledge in tea cultivation”, according to Lipton.

The academy, run in partnership with the government of Kenya and the university, will provide up to 3,000 Kenyans each year with professional training up to bachelors, masters and PhD level. 

Its curriculum will cover tea cultivation, harvesting and processing, as well as offering training in business, scientific research and technological innovation.

Tea is a major contributor to economic growth in Kenya, providing around 23% of all Kenya’s foreign exchange earnings and directly or indirectly employing five million people in the country.

The academy would “especially encourage and support women’s education and empowerment”, according to its founders. Around 60% of workers in the Kenyan tea industry are women.

“The academy reinforces our commitment to the Kenyan tea industry and the steps it is taking to raise standards in terms of quality, as well as human and environmental protections,” said Lipton Teas & Infusions CEO Nathalie Roos. “Higher education, available to more people, is the cornerstone of our shared future.

“The Lipton Tea Innovation & Technology Academy will create an outstanding and renown pool of talent that will be sought after by all tea regions around the world.”

William Ruto, the president of Kenya, added: This pioneering initiative will position Kenya as a global hub for training top-quality tea professionals and facilitate innovation throughout the tea value chain, as well as technology transfer.

“The academy will also facilitate the upskilling of existing tea farmers, thereby driving the transformation of the tea industry to deliver maximum benefits for households, the value chain and the national economy.”

The university is currently enrolling students at the academy, with the first courses set to begin later this year.