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Kenya tea production on the rise

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – Tea production for the first quarter of 2010 stood at 111.7 million kilogrammes, which was 69 percent higher than 65.8 million kilos recorded during the first quarter of 2009.

Improved performance for the first quarter of 2010 was largely attributed to wet weather experienced during the first two months of the year as opposed to the dry spell that is normally characteristic of this period.

According to the Kenya Industry Performance Highlights, “production for the first quarter of 2010 was the highest that the industry has ever recorded in the last five years for the same period, with output going up by 58 percent compared to 70.7 million kg recorded during the same period of 2008.”

The highlights by the Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director, Sicily Kariuki, however indicate that production for the first quarter of 2010 was comparable to that of the first quarter of 2007, which stood at 108.7 million kg.

Tea growing regions East of Rift recorded the highest increase of a 100 percent from 23.3 million kg to 46.8 million kg says the report, while West of Rift recorded a production increase of 52 percent from 42.4 million kg to 64.8 million kg.

During the first quarter of the year, the smallholder sub-sector recorded an increased production of 75 percent from 37.4 million kg recorded in the first quarter of 2009 to 65.8 million kg while the plantation sub-sector registered a 61 percent increase in production from 28.3 million kg to 45.9 million kg. Out of the total production, the smallholder sub-sector contributed 59 percent while the plantation sub-sector contributed 41 percent.

“From the global perspective, world tea output has gradually recovered from lower production trend occasioned by drought experienced across the major tea producing countries in 2009,” said Mrs Kariuki.

Among the major tea producers, Sri Lanka, whose production is predominantly Orthodox, registered 69 percent (21.2 million kg) higher crop for the period up to February 2010 compared to the same period last year. With regards to black CTC tea, India tea production was higher by 22 percent (8.2 million kg) for the same period.

“However, India’s tea production for the period up to February was lower than that of Kenya and Sri-Lanka due to the winter season experienced in North India from December 2009 to February 2010,” explained Mrs Kariuki.

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The report indicates: “During the first quarter of the year, the volume of Kenyan tea sold through Mombasa Auction stood at 72.1 million kg, which 22 percent higher compared to 59.3 million kg was sold during the same period last year. The average auction price for Kenyan tea was higher at $3.04 per kg compared to $2.31 recorded during the same period of 2009.”

During the quarter, tea auction prices across major tea producers were higher than the same period of last year by over 15 percent. Among the major tea producing countries, Sri-Lanka recorded the highest average auction price at $3.35 per kg, while India recorded an average price of $1.95. Rwanda tea recorded an average auction price of $2.90.

“Higher Auction prices were due to increased global demand in Europe, North America and the Middle East occasioned by higher consumption during the winter season, which runs from December to February,” said Mrs Kariuki.

During the period under review, Kenya tea was exported to thirty eight market destinations world-wide compared to thirty five destinations the same period of last year. Egypt was the leading export destination for Kenyan tea having imported 25.3 million kg, which accounted for 22 percent of the total export volume.

The UK was the second leading export destination after importing 22.5 million kg while Afghanistan imported 17.3 million kg to take the third position from Pakistan, which  imported 15.2 million kg. Sudan took the fifth position having imported 5.8 million kg.

Local tea consumption for the January to March period stood at 4.7 million kg, four percent higher than 4.5 million kg recorded during the same period of last year.

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