Kenyan tea exports to Russia fall Sh1bn on war


Tea pickers at work. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Russian-Ukraine war has cut the value of tea exports to Moscow by Sh1.1 billion, highlighting the effects of the chaos on Kenyan farmers.

Data from the Tea Board of Kenya indicates that the value of tea exported to Russia went down from Sh6.2 billion in 2021 to Sh5.1 billion last year.

This was attributed to the war that started in early 2022.

Consumers in Russia faced hard economic times as a result of economic sanctions, hurting demand for Kenyan tea amid the disruption of logistics.

Selling to Russia also became harder as the country fell under restrictions in terms of accessing US dollars.

“Lower export volumes were due to fewer imports by Pakistan, Russia and Egypt owing to challenges of foreign exchange reserves in these markets occasioned by the effects of the Russia-Ukraine crisis on the global economy,” said the TBK.

Pakistan and Egypt account for 55 percent of the total tea exports that Kenya sells to the world but low foreign reserves impacted negatively on volumes that they bought.

The Russian-Ukraine war resulted in jitters from stakeholders who were worried that the invasion by Moscow would hurt earnings.

However, Russia remained the sixth largest buyer of Kenyan tea, underpinning its importance as a key market for the beverage.

Overall earnings from tea grew by Sh2 billion last year, helped by a weaker shilling, increased volumes and higher prices of the beverage.

Kenya’s key markets for tea are struggling with a shortage of foreign currency amid surging inflation that has depleted the purchasing power.

In Egypt, where there is a foreign currency crisis, the pound slumped by at least 30 percent against the US dollar last month after the authorities moved to a flexible currency regime as part of the IMF deal in exchange for a $3 billion bailout.

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