, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 24- The Kenya tea sector has started the year on a negative note with production in January dropping 4.5 percent to stand at 35.9 million kilograms down from 37. 7 million kilograms in the corresponding period in 2009.
The Tea Board of Kenya attributes the drop in leaf output to hot and dry weather conditions experienced in tea growing areas that affected production.
The country is currently experiencing a sustained period of dry weather with the situation expected to last through to April, which could further put pressure to tea production during the year.
In 2010, the industry was the highest foreign exchange earner raking in Sh97 billion.
Tea production from small- scale farmers fell by 800,000 kilograms to 20.8 million kilograms. Production dropped 900,000 kilograms from the plantations to 15.1 million kilograms.
During the month, tea sales fell three percent to 22 million kilograms while exports dropped 14 percent to 33.6 million kilograms.
The drop in exports is largely due to political unrest in Egypt, which has traditionally been Kenya’s leading export market.
“Lower sales were attributed to less buying interest particularly by Egyptian packers during the last three auctions of the month owing to political unrest in Egypt that affected communication as well as trade and business transactions, since the middle of January,” Tea Board of Kenya Managing director Sicily Kariuki said.
The board is however optimistic that the market will claim its lead position in the coming months as the situation stabilizes.
Pakistan was the leading export destination having imported eight million kilograms, which accounted for 24 percent of the total exports. The UK, which imported six million kilograms, was the second largest importer.
Afghanistan and Russia imported three million kilograms and two million kilograms of Kenyan tea respectively.
The top five markets accounted for 71 percent of total volume exported while the other markets accounted for 29 percent.
The local tea consumption dropped marginally from 1.43 million kilograms to 1.36 million kilograms.
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