NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 27-Tea production took a 14 percent drop in January to stand at 25.5million bags compared to the 29.7 million bags in the corresponding month of 2008.
The drop was mainly attributed to the sunny and dry weather conditions in tea growing areas east of the Rift Valley, where production dropped by 35 percent from 15 million bags to 10 million bags.
“However, tea growing areas West of Rift recorded improved production of 8 per cent from 14.2 million Kgs recorded in January 2008 to 15.4 million Kgs owing to wet weather conditions characterised by occasional light rainfall,” a statement from the Tea Board of Kenya said.
Resultantly, the smallholder sub-sector recorded a 27 percent drop from 19.9 million Kgs to 14.4 million Kgs. The Plantation sub-sector registered a 12 percent increase in production from 9.8 million Kgs to 11.0 million Kgs.
The drop in tea production, however, seems not to have affected tea exports.The total export volume for the month stood at 34.9 million Kgs, 14 percent up compared to 30.4 million Kgs recorded during the same period last year.
During the month of January, Kenya tea was exported to 34 market destinations world-wide compared to 32 destinations over the same period of last year. Egypt was the leading export destination for Kenyan tea having imported 8.9 million Kgs which accounted for 25 percent of the total export volume.
Pakistan was the second leading export destination after importing 6.9 million Kgs superseding the UK, which imported 5.4 million Kgs.
Other key markets included Afghanistan (3.6 million Kgs), Russia (1.8 million Kgs), Sudan (1.3 million Kgs) and Kazakhstan (1.1 million Kgs). The six markets accounted for 80 percent of the total export volume while the rest accounted for 20 percent. Among these key markets for Kenyan tea, Afghanistan registered the highest growth in export volume at 145 percent. Kenya tea exports to Egypt and Pakistan increased by 50 percent and 40 percent respectively.
Increased export volume to the three destinations was due to improved buying interest by Afghanistan tea dealers, and tea packers from Egypt and Pakistan. However, owing to relatively low demand in the UK market compared to the same period of last year, Kenya tea exports to that destination dropped by 27 percent.
Tea auction was also positive during the month of January with fairly good demand for Kenyan tae at the Mombasa auction. The amount of Kenya tea sold at the stood at 19.1 million Kgs – 24 percent less compared to 23.7 million Kgs sold in December last year.
The quantity of tea sold during the month was however more compared to 17.4 million Kgs sold in January last year.
The Kenyan tea prices recorded improved prices at $2.33 per Kg compared to $2.28 realised in January 2008.
Following the price recovery from declining trend experienced in the last quarter of the year due to the effects of the global economic crises, the average price for the month was higher compared to $1.88 recorded in December 2008.