Tea, coffee record mixed fortunes


Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

Kenya’s tea and coffee exports recorded mixed fortunes in 2021 due to oscillating prices and demand in the international market.

It was a good year for coffee, whose price remained high throughout the season on the back of a decline in supply—caused by frost in leading producer Brazil.

The price was quoted at an average of over $320 for a 50 kilogramme bag throughout 2021, the best performance in years.

The coffee auction in Nairobi recorded an average price of $340 in the last sale of the year that was held on December 7.

Kenya’s Arabica is one of the highly sought after in the world market as traders use it to blend with lower quality produce from other parts of the world.

On the other hand, the price of tea started the year on a low note and by the first half of 2021 it had hit a 10-year low.

The declining value of one of Kenya’s leading exports was so alarming that the Ministry of Agriculture had to intervene and set a minimum selling price to save farmers who were incurring losses as the price was lower than the cost of production.

The minimum price of $2.43 was introduced by the ministry o in August 2021 after the cost of the commodity hit a decade low of Sh186.

The price rallied for two months after the introduction of the minimum price that buyers were supposed to pay for Kenya Tea Development Agency teas, peaking to a five-year high of Sh256 before it started dipping again in October.

From October, the price has been relatively low at the auction but remained above the prices that it fetches early in the year.

The price of tea started at a low of $1.96 but closed the year at $2.39 in the weekly Mombasa auction. The low prices were attributed to high volumes of the commodity in the world market that led to a glut, suppressing the farmer earnings.

Data from the directorate indicated that green leaf delivered to factory between January and June was 274 million kilogrammes when compared with 300 million kilogrammes that was realised in the same period in 2020.

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