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Kenya tea production to drop

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – The Tea Board of Kenya has indicated that tea production in 2011 could be 10 percent lower, owing to low output over the last four months.

According to the board, hot and dry weather conditions experienced in the months of January to March and depressed rainfall in April, cumulative tea production for the period January to April 2011 stood at 116.6 million kilograms, which was 20.9percent lower compared to the output of 147.5 million kilograms recorded during the first four months of 2010.

Last year recorded the best performance for Kenyan tea with an output of 399 million kilograms.

"Going by the Kenya tea industry production performance for the first four months of the year, production for the year is likely to be lower by 10 percent to 360 million kilograms," Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said.

The reduced leaf output is also likely to erode the earnings of the sector, which raked in Sh97 billion last year.

Tea production in April dipped 12percent to 31.4 million kilograms from 35.8 million kilograms in the corresponding period in 2010.

Compared to last year, tea-growing areas West of the Rift Valley recorded a lower output by 13.9percent from 20.4 million kilograms to 17.5 million kilograms. Consequently, production for the plantation sub-sector, which is more widespread within the West of Rift declined by 18.8percent from 14.4 million kilograms to 11.6 million kilograms.

During period, 13.8 million kilograms was sold through the Mombasa Tea Auction, 31percent lower compared to 19.9 million kilograms recorded in April 2010.

Consequently, the average tea prices for the month were slightly higher at $2.87 per kilo compared to $2.82 recorded in April 2010.

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"Due to lower production, cumulative auction sales for Kenyan tea during the January-April period were slightly lower at 79.7 million kilograms while the average auction prices were slightly higher at $ 3.02 per kilo compared to $3," Mrs Kariuki said.

Export volume during the month stood at 32.1 million kilograms, which was marginally higher by one percent.

Cumulative export volume for January-April was also lower at 139.6 million kilograms against 148.8 million kilograms recorded during the first four months of 2010.

Pakistan was the leading export destination for Kenyan tea, importing 6.4 million kilograms of tea, which accounted for 20 percent of Kenya tea export volume.

Other key export destinations for Kenyan tea were Afghanistan, which imported 5.8 million kilograms, Egypt 5.1 million kilograms, UK 4.5 million kilograms, and UAE 1.8 million kilograms.

The five export destinations accounted for 74 percent of Kenya tea export volume.

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