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Kenya tea production drops by 11pc

NAIROBI, Aug 28 – Tea production for the month of July 2009 recorded a drop of 11 percent to stand at 21.5 millions Kgs, compared to 24.2 million Kgs recorded during the same month in 2008.

Production for the month of July was also lower in comparison with the output registered in the month of June this year, which stood at 25.3 million Kgs.

According to the Tea Board of Kenya’s industry performance highlights for the month of July 2009: “The tea growing region West of Rift had the highest drop in production where a decline of 13 percent was recorded from 18.3 million Kgs registered in same month last year to 15.9 million Kgs. Tea growing areas East of Rift recorded a production decrease of 5 percent to 5.5 million Kgs from 5.9 million Kgs recorded in the same month of last year.”

The Tea Board bulletin said: “From a sectoral perspective, the Smallholder Sub-sector recorded a 12 percent drop in production from 12.5 million Kgs to 10.9 million Kgs while the Plantation sub-sector registered a 9 percent decrease in production from 11.6 million Kgs to 10.5 million Kgs.”

The performance report has attributed the drop to the effects of cold and dry weather conditions experienced in tea growing areas, with the average temperatures ranging from a maximum of 21oC to a minimum of 8oC. During the cold weather conditions, characteristic of the month of July, tea bushes experience subdued growth.

The statement signed by Tea Board Managing Director Sicily Kariuki says cumulative tea production for the period Jan-July stood at 160.7 million Kgs, 11.4 percent lower compared to 181.6 million Kgs recorded during the same period of 2008. With lower production to-date, tea output for the year is projected to decline to 325 million Kgs compared to 345 million Kgs recorded in 2008.

During the month of July, the amount of Kenyan tea sold through the Auction stood at 14.8 million, which was lower compared to 20.0 million Kgs sold during the corresponding month of last year and 22.4 million kgs sold through the Auction during the month of June this year.

“Due to lower supplies occasioned by cold and dry weather conditions, the average tea prices for Kenyan tea for the month of July 2009 was higher at USD 2.90 per Kg compared to USD 2.55 recorded in July 2008 and USD 2.70 registered in June this year,” explains the statement.
“To-date, the average tea auction prices for Kenyan tea stood at USD 2.49 per Kg compared to USD 2.38 recorded during the same period of 2008. Generally, the prices recorded to-date in all the tea Auction centres world-wide have significantly been higher compared to the other years, owing to lower supplies occasioned by drought that hit major tea producing countries during the first half of the year,” adds the report.

During the month under review, 32.3 million Kgs valued at Sh6.7 billion was exported compared to 31.6 million Kgs valued at Sh5 billion exported the same month last year.

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During the month, Kenya tea was exported to thirty six market destinations world-wide compared to thirty five destinations the same period of last year.

According to the Tea Board scorecard: “Among these markets, Egypt was the leading export destination for Kenyan tea having imported 7.5 million Kgs, which accounted for 23 percent of the total export volume. The UK was the second leading export destination after importing 6 million Kgs while Pakistan which was the third important market for Kenyan tea imported 5.2 million Kgs.”

“Other key markets included Afghanistan and Sudan, which imported 3.0 million Kgs and 2.9 million Kgs respectively,” said the report.

The five traditional markets accounted for 77 percent of the total export volume while the rest of the thirty seven markets accounted for 23 percent. Amongst these traditional markets, Sudan recorded the highest growth at 144 percent, followed by Afghanistan and UK which recorded a growth of 54 percent and 2.8 percent respectively. However, Egypt and Pakistan recorded a marginal drop of 0.4 percent and 5.9 percent respectively.

“The drop in Kenya tea exports to Egypt, and Pakistan was occasioned by higher prices of tea at Mombasa Auction. Similarly, drop in tea exports volume was witnessed in most other markets due to higher prices coupled with continued impact of the global economic crisis on consumer purchasing power,” the Tea Board bulletin explains

The report concludes: “Higher local consumption for the month July was attributed to increased demand for hot beverages occasioned by the cold season. Cumulative domestic tea consumption up to the month stood at 10.4 million Kgs, 7 percent higher compared to 9.7 million Kgs recorded during the same period year.”

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