A new purple tea variety has been developed by experts at the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya (TRFK). The Foundation has been granted the Plant Breeders Rights for this new variety. The new variety, known as, TRFK 306, was recently granted by the Minister for Agriculture after approval by the plant standards regulator. The Kenyan government has now also approved the commercial production of the new variety.

The new purple tea variety has higher medicinal properties than green and black tea varieties. Furthermore, its seeds produce oil suitable for cooking, cosmetics and for various uses in the pharmaceutical industry. The new purple tea variety is drought and frost resistant, high yielding and grows in similar weather conditions to green tea species.

Kenya, being one of the world largest producers of tea, is actively involved in developing new tea varieties. In fact, last year two new drought resistant tea varieties or clones were developed, namely, TRFK 371/3 and TRFK 430/90. However, poor weather conditions in the first half of the year have resulted in lower tea production in Kenya. There is therefore a need to keep developing high value tea varieties which are resistant to changing weather conditions and pests. The new purple tea variety, and continued research and development will certainly continue to diversify the country's tea products and increase farmers' income.

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