Politics and policy
Coffee income rises 12.9pc as tea output falls on bad weather
Posted Tuesday, July 24 2012 at 20:44
Kenya’s earnings from coffee and tea for the past five months have risen by 12.9 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively to Sh50 billion.
Coffee earnings until May amounted to Sh10.56 billion compared to Sh9.35 billion last year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ (KNBS) June leading economic indicators. Money earned so far from tea during the period is Sh39.5 billion compared to last year’s Sh37.8 billion.
Production of coffee in the first five months of this year was 21,376 tonnes, a 48.3 per cent increase from last year’s 14,407 tonnes. Tea on the other hand, recorded a drop over the period with production of 156,193 tonnes compared to 159,753 tonnes last year.
“The improved performance in the coffee sector so far this year is attributable to the fact that more farmers have gone back to farming coffee,” said Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters managing director Lucy Murumba.
Tea production has, however, been on a downward trend with drought and frost attacks emerging as the biggest threat to productivity and earnings.
The adverse weather is said to have led to a 14 per cent drop in tea production in the first three months of the year to 72.4 million kilogrammes in the first quarter compared to 85.1 kilogrammes during the same period last year.
This drop has not abated with month-on-month quantity of tea exports decreasing since February with May production figures being 25,060 tonnes compared to April’s 26,816.
“Other than the frost attacks that we experienced in the first few months of this year, last year’s short rains were not adequate enough and this effect was felt this year too,” said East Africa Tea Traders Association chairman Peter Kimanga.
To counter this drop in exports, Kenya has been trying to diversify its markets to cut reliance on the top markets of UK, Egypt, Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which account for 70 per cent of total exports.
Tea Board of Kenya has in the recent past said that Iran remained a high potential growth market for exports and urged traders to cautiously exploit opportunities in that country.
Kenya produced less tea last year from the previous period due to adverse weather but earnings from the crop soared to Sh109 billion, thanks to high prices and a weaker shilling against the dollar.