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Good weather raises tea production 14pc in June after drought

A woman picks tea leaves in Nyeri County. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A woman picks tea leaves in Nyeri County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Tea production in June rose 14 per cent compared with the same period last year, marking the first significant rise since January.

Tea Directorate attributed the growth to favourable weather between March and May on end of a prolonged dry spell in growing zones that kicked off late last year.

Latest data from the directorate indicates the volumes of tea was 40 million kilogrammes up from 35 million kilogrammes in the same period last year.

“The increase in production was largely attributed to scattered precipitation which was experienced in the east of Rift (Mount Kenya and Aberdare) following which the region’s output rose from 9.30 million kilos to 12.24 million kilos,” says the directorate in the June report.

The Tea Directorate says consistent cold weather coupled with less rainfall in the west of Rift (Kericho, Kisii and western) saw the output in the region rise marginally from 26.5 million kilogrammes in June 2016 to 28.29 million kilos last month.

Plantation production rose marginally from 17.60 million kilogrammes in the corresponding period last year to 18.68 million kilogrammes in June.

Tea farmers affiliated to Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) earned a record Sh84 billion in the last financial year, making it the second year of improved earnings, helped by a stable exchange rate and high pricing of the commodity in the world market.

The earnings were Sh21 billion more than previous season when the KTDA recorded sales of Sh63 billion It remains to be seen whether tea earnings in the current financial year will be better than last year’s given that the value of the beverage at the auction has been declining in the past four sales to touch a three-month low.

Agriculture and Food Authority has warned that tea production for 2017 is expected to drop by 11 per cent due to the effects of drought from 473 million kilos in 2016 to about 420 million kilos this year.

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