Crop Improvement and Management
Goal: To improve Productivity in tea Ecosystems.
The use of improved vegetatively propagated tea cultivars is the most important exercise without which application of optimal agronomic inputs like fertilizer and harvesting practices would be futile. To meet the diverse needs of Kenyan tea growers, the Crop Improvement and Management (CIM) Programme has adopted integrated breeding strategies in order to develop elite and high value tea varieties that combine multiple desirable traits using both conventional and non-conventional methods e.g. biotechnology.
Thus, the Institute has earmarked to release, by 2020, at least five improved stress tolerant, high yielding cultivars that will produce better quality black tea products. Some of the cultivars the Institute intends to release will include at least more cultivars for production of high value diversified tea products such as green (non-fermented), white (silverly tips), oolong (semi-fermented), purple, red and naturally caffeine-free teas that are rich in antioxidants.
The programme has two sections, namely;
1. Tea Breeding and Genetic Improvement (TBGI)
2. Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM)