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Tea production expected to drop by 12 percent

The total production for tea volumes in the first quarter of this year is expected to drop by 12 percent from an all-time high of 492.99 million Kgs in 2018 to about 416 million Kgs.


Similarly, export volumes are expected to drop by the same margin of 12 percent to reach 422 million Kgs from 474.8 million Kgs, while earnings are expected to reduce to Sh 133 Billion from Sh. 140.86 billion recorded in 2018.


The drop has been attributed to depressed rainfall conditions experienced during the 2018 October/ December short rains and the effects of the current dry weather situation in the country.


Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Interim Director General Antony Mureithi in a report on the Kenya Tea Industry performance for 2018 and 2019 that has just been released to the media said Auction prices for the tea is however expected to increase slightly from an average of Sh 258 (USD 2.58) to Sh 284 (USD 2.84)


On production, Mureithi noted that the month of December 2018, production stood at 51.82 million Kgs against 47.50 million Kgs recorded during the corresponding month of 2017.


Increased production, he explained, was largely attributed to the higher precipitation coupled with warm weather conditions experienced in tea growing areas in the West of Rift particularly in Nyamira, Kisii, Nandi, and Kericho counties.


Consequently the DG added that the output within the West of Rift increased from 29.37 million Kgs to 33.26 million Kgs.


“Higher production was therefore recorded within the plantation sub-sector which is more dominant in the region, with output increasing from 19.69 million Kgs to 24.08 million Kgs,” he said.


Cumulatively, Mureithi noted that production for the year 2018 January to December was significantly higher owing to good weather conditions experienced throughout the year.


On the Auction prices, Tea from other producers in the region also experienced significant reduction with most of them recording an average of Sh 200 (USD 2 per kg).


“Lower prices were attributed to improved supply in tea production within the region owing to favourable weather conditions and this was exacerbated by other global market dynamics such as the uncertainty over sanctions against Iran and also continued pressure of the USD against the respective local currencies in most markets owing to reduced consumer purchasing power,” he said.


Mureithi explained that 2018 was a good year as the country exported a total of   474.86 million Kgs which was 59.14 million Kgs higher than 415.68 million Kgs exported in 2017.


“The export earnings increased by Sh 11.59 billion from Sh 129.27 billion (USD 1.25 million) recorded in 2017 to Sh 140.86 billion (USD 1.37 billion),” he said, noting there was increased exports of Kenyan tea to most markets and the markets were more compared with 2017.


During the month of December, Kenya tea was shipped to 42 export destinations compared to 39 destinations for the same period of last year.


Amongst these markets, Mureithi said Pakistan was the leading export destination for Kenyan tea having imported 13.86 million Kgs, accounting for 39 percent of the total export volume.


Other key export destinations were Egypt (5.21 million Kgs), UK (4.09 million Kgs), UAE (2.66 million Kgs), Russia (1.50 million Kgs), Sudan (0.98 million Kgs), Kazakhstan (0.92 million Kgs), Yemen (0.72 million kgs), Bangladesh (0.48 million Kgs) and Ireland (0.42 million Kgs)


“The ten export destinations, most of which are traditional markets for Kenyan tea accounted for 87 percent of Kenya tea export volume,” he explained.


New emerging markets that recorded significantly higher tea imports included Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ireland, Iran, India, Poland, Netherlands, Somalia, Turkey, Indonesia, Japan, Ghana, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, China, Northern Marina Islands and Germany.


Mureithi said the total export volume for the year 2018 January- December was 474.86 million Kgs compared to 415.68 million Kgs recorded same period of last year.


On consumption, Mureithi said local tea consumption for December 2018 stood at 4.55 million Kgs against 3.89 million Kgs for the corresponding period of 2017 while cumulative tea consumption for the year 2018 stood at 38.00 million Kgs against 37.63 million Kgs for the corresponding period of 2017.


Tea is the leading foreign exchange earner to the country but of late it has been facing challenges both local and external.


By Wangari Ndirangu


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