Commodities

Kenyan tea exports take 26pc hit from Sudan war

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A woman carries a sack with tea leaves on her back after plucking at a farm in Kapsabet, Nandi County on April 04, 2023. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Kenya’s tea export dropped 26 percent in the first quarter of the year, taking a hit from the civil unrest in Sudan.

Sudan, which is among the top five export destinations for Kenyan tea, has already seen the volumes shipped to the destination decline by 59 percent with traders projecting less imports by Khartoum in the coming months should the civil strife continue.

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The Tea Board of Kenya says the total volumes exported in the review period was 99.8 million kilogrammes, a drop from the 135 million kilos recorded in the corresponding period last year.

“Lower export volumes were due to less imports by Pakistan, Egypt and Sudan owing to challenges of forex reserves affecting these markets,” said the directorate.

Traders have lamented that it is becoming difficult for tea to access the Sudan market because of the challenges caused by war, which has cut demand for the beverage and posed a logistical nightmare for shippers.

“The war has had a huge impact on the teas that we sell to Sudan and it has significantly reduced the volumes,” said Peter Kimanga, a Mombasa-based tea trader with Global Tea Commodities.

The situation in the Sudan market has compounded the problems facing Kenya’s tea export to leading destinations, which has suffered a huge impact on the back of a shortage of forex reserves in Pakistan and Egypt — Kenya’s main buyers.

In the review period, exports to Pakistan dropped by 48 percent with Egypt recording a 33 percent decline compared with the same period last year.

The prolonged fighting in Sudan, which is now entering the second month, will have a negative impact on farmers, whose earnings are likely to reduce, with Kenya facing an overall decline in forex earnings due to a dip in export volumes.

Tea is one of the top foreign earners and it earned Kenya Sh138 billion last year on the back of an increase in export volumes.

The United Kingdom was the only top market for the Kenyan beverage, which recorded positive growth in quarter one with the volumes having jumped by 16 percent to 11 million kilos.

Read: Kenya faces tough tea export future in Pakistani cuts

The Tea Board of Kenya has been seeking new tea markets as it moves to diversify the market for the beverage and cut overreliance on the top 10 buyers who account for 85 percent of the total volumes that are exported.

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