Tea production dips due unfavorable weather conditions

Agriculture Counties Editor's Pick Nairobi

Tea production recorded a significant drop from 43.27 million Kilograms (kgs) in June and 50 million Kgs in May to 33.85 million Kgs in July.

Though this was the lowest monthly production for the year to date, it was within the seasonal average output usually recorded in July.

A report from the Tea Board of Kenya indicates that the drop in production for the month follows minimal and occasional rainfall experienced in most parts of the country as well as cold and cloudy conditions.

“During the month, weather conditions in the highlands East of the Rift Valley was characterized by occasional drizzle or light rains coupled with cool temperatures,” read the report.

In the West of the Rift Valley, certain tea growing areas, especially in Kericho and Nandi, recorded modest precipitation while the rest such as Bomet, Nyamira and Kisii experienced dry weather conditions or lower rainfall of fewer than 10 Millimeters daily.

The report further explained that consequently, in tea growing areas in the West of Rift Valley, production dropped by about 0.48 million Kgs from 28.40 million Kgs recorded during the corresponding month of 2021 to 27.91 million Kgs. Production in the region was also lower compared to 31.87 million Kgs recorded in June.

“Due to unfavorable weather conditions in the West of Rift Valley (Bomet, Nyamira and Kisii) and lower rainfall in the East of Rift Valley, production in the smallholder sub-sector dropped by about 2.28 million Kgs, from 15.00 million Kgs recorded during the corresponding month of 2021 to 12.72 million Kgs,” read the report.

However, production within the plantation sub-sector was higher by about 1.40 million Kgs, from 19.73 million Kgs recorded during the corresponding month of 2021 to 21.13 million Kgs due to moderate rainfall received in certain tea growing areas of the West of Rift Valley where the sub-sector is more prevalent.

Cumulative production for the seven-month period was lower by 4.59 million Kgs to stand at 304.22 million Kgs against 308.81 million Kgs recorded during the corresponding period of 2021. Going by the trend to date, lower cumulative production is likely to continue throughout the rest of the year.

In July, auction sales volume for Kenyan tea stood at 28.15 million Kgs, which was lower compared to 38.35 million Kgs recorded in the corresponding month of last year. It was also lower in comparison with 40.54 million Kgs sold in June.

Lower teas on offer for sale at the auction follows reduced supply on account of the declining production trend. The average auction price for Kenyan tea during July this year was slightly lower at 2.37 USD per kg compared to 2.44 USD per kg recorded in June and 2.41 USD per kg in May.

“However, it was higher compared to 1.75 USD and 1.81 USD recorded during the same period of 2021 and 2020, respectively,” reads the report.

The total export volume for July 2022 was lower by 22%; from 31.49 million Kgs recorded in the same period of last year to 40.59 million Kgs. It was also lower compared to export volumes recorded during the preceding months.

The number of export markets was also lower at 47 compared to 49 for the same period of last year. The decline in exports was majorly due to the effects of the Russia / Ukraine crisis that continued to cause a global economic recession and thus negatively affected purchasing power in most markets.

“Pakistan maintained its position as the leading export destination for Kenyan tea having imported 12.28 million Kgs compared to 16.41 million Kgs imported during the same month last year. Despite lower import volume, Pakistan accounted for 39 percent of the total export volume,” reads the report.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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