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Kenya projects drop in tea production

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 1 – Tea production in the country is expected to drop by five percent this year to 360 million kilograms (Kgs) from 377 million Kgs last year.

Tea Board of Kenya Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said the drop will be due to severe dry and hot weather conditions, frost attack and delayed onset of the long rains.

Exports will also drop by five percent from 421 million Kgs to 400 million Kgs. However, export value is expected to go up by one percent from Sh109 billion to Sh110 billion.

“By the time we are closing the year, we will still be suffering some minor negative variance in terms of total production. We maybe anywhere slightly above 360 million Kgs – a projection that we had earlier indicated. We have revised and it remains the same, “said Kariuki.

Tea production from January to August 2012 dropped by 6.5 percent to 214.4 million Kgs compared to 229 million Kgs in the same period last year.

“Why again… adverse weather conditions and not just here in Kenya but across the globe. At the beginning of the year we had frost attacks particularly in most parts of West Rift, “added Kariuki.

India and Sri-Lanka, which are Kenya’s top competitors also experienced drop in tea production during same period. Production in India dropped by four percent to 470 million Kgs from 491 million Kgs last year while in Sri-Lanka production dipped by two percent from 189 million Kgs last year to 185 million Kgs.

However Kenya experienced growth in its emerging markets including United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia, Somalia, Iran, Ireland, Djibouti, USA, and Turkey.

This was attributed to political stability in the Middle East, enhanced promotion, diversified uses of tea and increased demand in these markets.

Tea production for the first six months of this year went down to 158.1 million from 178.4 million kgs in the corresponding period in 2011.

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The Tea Board MD was speaking during the launch of the Tea Week campaign aimed at encouraging local consumption of Tea.

Attributing to high tea prices and competition from other beverages, local consumption between the month of January and August 2012 dropped by 5.6 percent to 12.4million Kgs compared to 13.1 million Kgs during the same period last year.

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