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Kenya tea output dips 7pc

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23- Kenya\’s tea production for the month of October has dropped to 32.7 million kilograms down from 35.3 million registered during the same period last year.

Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said this marked a 7 percent drop in production mainly attributed to the long drought that plagued the country at the beginning of the year.

During the month, the East Rift recorded a 26 percent drop in production of 10.6 million kilos. There was however some respite in the west Rift which recorded an increase in production from 20.7 million kilos in 2008 to 22.1 million kilos this year.

The Smallholder Sub-sector recorded a production output of 17.2 million kilos, which was a drop from 20.8 million kilos last year. However, production within the Plantation sub-sector rose to 15.5 million kilos from 14.4.million kilos.

Cumulative tea production for the period between January and October stood at 242.2 million kilograms but the board still expects a decline in production in 2009.
"Tea output for 2009 is projected to decline to 325 million kilos compared to 345 million kilos recorded in 2008," Mrs Kariuki said.

During the period under review, 27.1 million kilograms of tea was sold through export earning the country Sh6.05 billion, brining the cumulative tea sales to 283.9 million kilograms.

This was however 11 percent lower than the 321.6 million registered last year.

14.7 million kilograms of tea was sold through the auction, 20 percent lower than the 20.2 million kilograms last year.

But the low level of tea supply continues to have a positive impact on tea prices.

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The average tea prices for Kenyan tea was higher at Sh208 per kilogram compared to Sh171 realized in October 2008.

"The prices recorded this year have been significantly higher compared to the previous years," she said attributing it to the short fall in tea supply from the world leading black tea producers due to adverse weather conditions experienced in the first half of the year.

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