NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 26 – Kenya’s overall tea production fell nine percent in 2009 to stand at 314 million kilograms from 345 million realised in 2008.
As expected, the prolonged drought experienced during the year was mainly to blame for the drop.
Releasing the results on Tuesday, Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said the East Rift was the most affected region witnessing a 26 drop in production from 145 million kilos in 2008 to 108 million in 2009.
“The situation was slightly different in the West Rift which saw a three percent increase up from 200.17 million kilograms in 2008 to 205.72Kgs,” she said.
During that period however, the average tea price at the auction surged higher as global demand and supply for the leaves continued to clash. The average tea price for 2009 stood at Sh208.35 per kilogram as compared to Sh178.47.
Tea sold through the auction was 203 million kilograms.
Tea exports fell to 342 million kilograms in 2009 from 383 million kilograms in the previous year. However, favourable exchange rate coupled with increased demand saw export earnings rise to Sh69 billion from Sh62 billion earned in 2008.
Mrs Kariuki says with the onset of rains witnessed towards the tail end of 2009, this year could be a renaissance year for Kenyan tea production raking in more from exports for the industry.
She has predicted 14 percent growth in 2010 going towards 358 million kilograms which could take industry earnings beyond Sh70 billion.
“If we attain the projected production we could export 337 million kilograms of tea in 2010 which could take us beyond the Sh70 billion mark,” Mrs Kariuki said.