Tea earnings hit Sh129bn in 2017

Tea production, tea farm

Kenyan tea farmers will be a happy lot after the country’s tea export earnings rose by eight percent in 2017.

Data from the tea directorate shows that the country earned Sh129 billion from tea sales in 2017, up from Sh120 billion a year earlier.

Tea Directorate interim director Samuel Ogola attributes the performance to steady tea prices at the international market that offset the decline in production.

“We are intensifying promotion of Kenyan tea in Iran, Russia and UAE. In China and Iran the strategies are ongoing,” Mr Ogola said.

The volume of tea exports dropped thirteen percent during the year to hit 415 million kilograms.

The earnings increase comes despite a dip in production owing to the prolonged drought at the start of 2017.

Production during the year stood at 439 million kilograms of tea down 7 percent from 473 million kilograms in 2016.

With the drought more prevalent in the East of the Rift, production dropped 9 percent to register 152 million kilograms of tea.

Interesting to note, local consumption recorded the highest growth for the first time in five years.

The local market consumed thirty seven million kilograms of tea, twenty seven percent higher, compared to twenty nine million kilograms in 2016.

The directorate attributes this to more sales by packers and factories and high purchasing power amongst consumers.

Consequently the value of tea consumed in the domestic market stood at Sh15 billion during the year, compared to Sh12 billion in 2016.

Industry stakeholders have called for a raft of measures to improve sector including the return of an independent tea board.

“There is a strong feeling from tea sector that there can be enhanced performance if tea directorate is removed from the AFA conglomeration. We feel we could perform better as we were before,” said Edward Mudibo, Managing Director at East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA).

Overall, the tea directorate projects a three percent rise in tea production to about 452 million kilograms for the year 2018, banking on favorable weather conditions.

Auction prices are also expected to remain stable.

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