, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – Kenya’s tea sector recorded a 23 percent drop in production from 34.8 million kilograms recorded in February 2010 to 26.7 million kilos in February this year, following the continued hot and dry weather conditions experienced in tea growing areas.
The drought affected production in all tea growing regions leading to lower supply of green leaf to the factories.
“In addition to the impact of drought, green leaf supply within the West of Rift was also affected by incidences of frost in a few areas which was caused by extreme temperatures recorded during the month,” Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said.
Within the East of Rift, production was lower by 5.5 million kgs, from 15.3 million kgs recorded in February 2010 to 9.7 million kgs. West of Rift recorded lower output of 2.6 million kgs to 16.9 million kgs during the period under review.
The smallholder sub-sector recorded a drop from 20.8 million kgs to 15.5 million kgs while the plantation sub-sector registered less production by 2.7 million kgs from 13.9 million kgs to 11.1 million kgs.
Due to lower green leaf supplies during the month, most factories were operating below their normal production capacities. In addition, tea plucking cycle was reduced from six to four days in a week.
Mrs Kariuki is however hopeful that the situation may change in the next two months with the onset of the long rains.
The amount of Kenya tea sold through the auction for the month of February stood at 18.7 million kgs, which was 15 percent higher compared to 21.4 million kgs recorded in February 2010.
The average price for Kenyan tea dropped slightly to Sh259.4 ($3.07 per kg) compared to Sh264.4 ($3.13) recorded in February 2010.
During the month of February 2011, a total of 32.2 million kgs of Kenyan tea was exported to 33 market destinations.
This amount of tea was 5.3 million kgs less compared to 37.5 million kgs exported to the same number of destinations during the corresponding month of 2010.
Lower export volume was largely attributed to less shipment to Egypt during the first two weeks of the month owing to political unrest experienced in that country.
The unrest in Egypt, which lasted for a month affected trade and business transactions in the country between January and February consequent to which, Kenya tea exports to Egypt dropped to 5.7 million kgs compared to 9 million kgs recorded in February last year. However, tea imports by Egypt have now gone back to normal.
During the month, Pakistan was the leading export destination having imported 7.1 million kgs, which accounted for 24 percent of the total exports. UK, imported 5 million kgs while Afghanistan and UAE imported 2.7 million kgs and 2.1 million kgs 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 for February 2011 increased from 1.31 million kgs recorded in February 2010 to 1.59 million kgs.
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