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Kenya tea production falls

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 28 – The Tea Board of Kenya has reported an 11.6 percent drop in tea production for the half year ended August 2009 owing to the ongoing drought.

While making the announcement on Monday, Tea Board Managing Director Sicily Kariuki blamed adverse weather conditions especially in the East of the Rift Valley, where production fell by 32 percent from 90.1 million kilograms last year to 60.5 million kilograms.

 “We have witnessed prolonged dry weather conditions especially east of the rift, which would largely account for that difference,” she said.

She added that the production to date is the second lowest in cumulative terms that the industry has witnessed over the years.

The situation is set to remain gloomy with the Chief Executive projecting a 10 percent drop end of year production from last year.

Tea auction sales also dropped from 147 million kilograms to 140 million kilograms, while exported tea dropped by 10 percent to stand at 225 million kilograms, compared to 251 million kilograms last year.

“Overall, our traditional markets took up 74 percent of total exports while 26 percent went to other 39 destinations.

Egypt leads the way with 52 million kilograms (23 percent) followed by the UK with 41.3 kilograms and Pakistan with 33.8 million kilograms.

Mrs Kariuki however said that demand and supply factors would see farmers get higher returns due to the global shortfall of tea, a position shared by the Kenya Tea Development Agency.

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“We anticipate the combined effect of the favourable exchange rates and the high prices, farmers may be comfortable this year,” she said.

Mrs Kariuki highlighted that the board was targeting Holland and Ukraine as emerging markets for what she terms as important shipment points for tea going into Eastern Europe.

Cumulative Tea consumption up to August 2009 was higher by 4% to stand at 11.7 million kilograms against 11.3 million kilograms recorded during the same period last year.

“By the end of the year we anticipate sales will increase to Sh66 billion, up from Sh62 billion last year.”

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