Kenya earned Sh125b from tea last year


A woman picks tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region ...
A woman picks tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region west of capital Nairobi, November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

Kenya earned Sh125.5 billion from tea exports, a 23 percent increase from the Sh101 billion raked in from the sector in 2014.

Data from the Tea Directorate attributes this to a 10 percent drop in tea production during the year to 399 million kilos from 445 million kilos in 2014. The lower production was due to dry weather in tea producing areas in the first five months of 2015.

Kenya is the world’s leading exporter of black tea, which is a key foreign exchange earner.

The earnings from tea were also boosted by a weak shilling, with a kilo of tea retailing at an average of USD2.98 at the Mombasa tea auction. In 2014, tea averaged USD2.16 a kilo at the auction.

Favorable prices saw smallholder tea farmers earn Sh43.3 billion from tea, up from Sh35.6 billion in 2014.

According to the Tea Directorate, tea was primarily exported to 68 markets.

Pakistan was the biggest importer of Kenyan tea accounting for 26.2 percent followed by Egypt (17.4%), the United Kingdom (10.1%), Afghanistan (9.3%) and the United Arab Emirates (8.5%).

The directorate is working on efforts to grow exports to emerging markets such as Poland, Somalia and Nigeria that have shown great interest in Kenyan grown tea.

Looking ahead, the Tea Directorate plans to introduce a Sh450 million cash subsidy to be used by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to assist farmers. The directorate also plans to introduce an electronic auction system to promote transparency and accountability at the tea auction.

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Story By Michael Karanja
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